|Barry Law VITA Program wins ABA award for the 4th time
Congratulations to the Barry Law School Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program
for winning the American Bar Association Law Student Division Award for Best
Continuing VITA Site for 2009. This is the 4th year in a row the Barry VITA Program has
been honored by the ABA!
Barry volunteers won the Best Rookie VITA Site Award for 2006 and Best Continuing
VITA Site for 2007, 2008, and 2009. This is a national award open to students from
every ABA accredited law school. In addition to continuing the winning tradition, the
dedicated efforts of our volunteers to help lower income individuals paid great dividends
in terms of increased services for our local community.
During its first year, a dozen volunteers filed nearly 100 returns for individuals in the local
community. In subsequent years, the program has grown exponentially and continues
to win additional awards from the IRS and the ABA for expanding and improving
services. Barry’s VITA program was also featured in the ABA Law Student Magazine in
the Winter of 2007 and 2008.
The VITA program has provided over 2000 hours of free, friendly, competent tax preparation
services to the local community. We have maintained an emphasis on maximizing
refund amounts by educating taxpayers about the Earned Income Tax Credit
(EITC). To date, Barry’s VITA volunteers have prepared over 700 returns on site with
over $600,000 dollars in refunds given back to the taxpayers--approximately one-third
of that amount has been due to the EITC. Barry recently expanded to offer Spanishspeaking
services to better serve our local Hispanic community, a group chronically underserved
in terms of the EITC.
The ABA presented the award to 3L Michelle Reeves, one of our 2009 VITA Site Coordinators
in Chicago at its August National Convention. It was most fitting that she accept
on behalf of Barry as she has also been elected to serve as the ABA Law Student Division
5th Circuit Lt. Governor for VITA.
While most volunteers get a sense of pride and accomplishment just by helping those
who are less fortunate, this award validates the exceptional work our Barry volunteers
are doing for the community. It is gratifying to see that the rest of the Legal Community
recognizes and appreciates our great work. It is very exciting to win this award
again as it demonstrates Barry’s commitment to excellence
and devotion to helping those in need in our community.
Thanks to all who participated this last year. Let’s make this
year even better!