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The Avodah Blog

Placement Spotlight: Dreams for Change; Stabilizing Lives of Underserved Families

Image of Naomi holding a pamphlet for volunteer tax help.
Naomi serves at Dreams for Change in San Diego, where she is recruiting volunteers to help recover tax refunds for eligible families. Those unclaimed funds help to reinvest in the local community.

Submitted by Dreams for Change Development Director Kelly Spoon.

Avodah Service Corps Member Naomi Roter is spending her service year at the San Diego nonprofit, Dreams for Change. Established in 2009 by Dr. Teresa Smith, Dreams for Change aims to respond to the needs of communities through innovative and cost-effective programs that empower and stabilize the lives of underserved families and individuals. 

While there are many paths to stability, Dreams for Change has recently expanded its programming to become a site for the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, offering free tax preparation to those who need assistance navigating the tax system. The program helps ensure refunds, adding up to millions of dollars, are put back into the community for people in need. Naomi serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for the VITA program, conducting outreach to local colleges and communities to recruit volunteers for the spring 2022 tax season. 

The VITA volunteers Naomi recruits will go through a free IRS-certification training, and then volunteer their time over the course of 13 weeks to complete taxes at multiple sites. Naomi’s commitment to outreach has helped Dreams for Change be one of the leading organizations for the VITA program, as well as led to several meetings with college faculty and the launch of a new, educational Zoom series. 

While getting volunteers is the first step, her work will pay off in the spring, when Dreams for Change receives their data on how many refunds were given back to community members. Until then, she will continue recruiting volunteers and looking forward to a great tax season. 

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