When Katie Rodgers graduated from Huntington University in 2009, she had one goal in mind: To continue living in Huntington.
“At that point, I probably would have settled for any job,” said Katie, a missions major. “I was looking for just about anything to be in Huntington. “
She had taken the summer to help run and work at Camp Adeline, a small Christian camp in Illinois. But as the summer came to a close, Katie was eager to restart her life in Huntington.
Katie’s involvement in her church community, the 509 on State Street, and her established relationships with friends made the city an appealing place to settle for a couple of years.
It was then that Martha Smith, HU’s associate dean of student life and director of career development and counseling, e-mailed Katie the link to a job offered by Pathfinders Services Inc. through the organization AmeriCorps.
“My main role for this was to start up a new program for them called the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Tax Program,” Katie said. “I did that for a year (through AmeriCorps), and then Pathfinders hired me on to work for them as the supervisor of the program .”
The VITA program offers free tax preparation services to community members who make less than $50,000 annually.
Katie’s first year proved to be a challenge. She basically built the tax program from the ground up with only having visited the Fort Wayne location for a few hours to see how the program was run.
“We didn’t know what to expect because Pathfinders had never done the program before,” Katie said. “It’s kind of just a lot of trial and error.”
In one year, the tax program had a goal to complete 100 tax returns, which they met within the first two weeks. Katie and her crew of volunteers finished 465 returns last year, returning more than $600,000 to the community.
And the following year was looking just as promising.
“We’ve already done 280 (returns) in four weeks,” Katie said. “We have 400 appointments already.”
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