It’s Tax Season – Time to Review Your Financial Health

Innovative program with HandsOn Broward, Points of Light, Bank of America and AmeriCorps VISTA provides trained financial coaches to help families improve financial health at no cost.

April traditionally means two things: April showers, and the tax man cometh.

While we can’t control Mother Nature, we can manage the severity of the tax bite.  And if the tax man happens to be benevolent, sometimes we even receive a tax refund.

How to minimize the tax bite or how to spend that refund leaves many of us scratching our heads. In particular, low-to-moderate income households often do not have resources available to guide them through their many financial choices.

Financial Opportunity Corps, an innovative program hosted by HandsOn Broward, aims toFinancial opportunity Corps nationwide- photo (3) change that by bringing free financial education and awareness to low-to-moderate income communities. And what better time to review financial health than in April, when the impact of taxes are very much on everyone’s minds?

Financial Opportunity Corps offers free one-on-one financial coaching and education workshops to low-to-moderate income communities.  This holistic and twofold approach differs from traditional financial counseling because it empowers clients to develop financial goals with their coach acting as a support and guide. Trained community-based coaches work one-on-one with clients to develop strategies to reduce debt, improve credit, start saving for emergencies, access benefits and build assets for long-term financial health.  Financial education workshops support the coaching relationship and are offered free of charge to the community, covering topics such as savings, credit, financial recovery, and borrowing.

HandsOn Broward is one of nine sites across the country hosting this new program developed by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, in partnership with Bank of America, one of the world’s largest financial institutions, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Two trained AmeriCorps VISTA members, Lauren Harrison and Melinda Matthews, are working with HandsOn Broward to develop the local program.

“The power and potential of the Financial Opportunity Corps stems from our community-driven approach and volunteer-led outreach,” said Delores Morton, President of Programs at Points of Light. “Organizations like HandsOn Broward know the needs of their communities better than anyone.”

To learn more about the Financial Opportunity Corps, or to become a client, contact either Lauren Harrison (lauren@handsonbroward.org) at (954) 233-1290 or Melinda Matthews (melinda@handsonbroward.org) at (954) 233-1287.

About HandsOn Broward: HandsOn Broward inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action to positively affect change in Broward County. To learn more about HandsOn Broward’s upcoming service opportunities or to schedule a volunteer orientation at your organization or place of business, please call 954.233.1300 or visit HandsOn Broward online at http://www.HandsOnBroward.org.

About Points of Light: Points of Light – the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service – mobilizes millions of people to take action that is changing the world. Through affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages 4 million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year. We put people at the center of change. For more information, go to www.pointsoflight.org.

About Bank of America: Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. We serve approximately 52 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,400 retail banking offices and approximately 16,300 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users. Bank of America is among the world’s leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

About AmeriCorps VISTA: AmeriCorps VISTA is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. With passion, commitment, and hard work, AmeriCorps VISTA members create or expand programs designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.

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March Project Leader Spotlight: Nate Handley

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HandsOn Broward’s March Project Leader Spotlight belongs to Nate Handley. Nate started volunteering with HandsOn Broward in early 2012, after doing a Google search for local volunteer organizations. He has volunteered at a variety of nonprofit agencies through HandsOn Broward, including Kids In Distress, the Tranquil Manor Foundation, and Broward Outreach Center. “I was raised on the importance of giving back and have always believed that the more we give, the more we receive,” Nate said.

Outside of his volunteer experience with HandsOn Broward, Nate is also an active certified Guardian ad Litem, volunteer Board Member for Voices for Children of Broward County, has volunteered with Rebuilding Together Broward County, and is currently the chair of the PeytonBolin, PL Philanthropy Committee, which has taken part in several volunteer projects over the past three years.

“Volunteering has allowed me the opportunity to meet some of the most wonderful people in the world!  In addition, I have been able to put my own life in perspective and volunteering gives me a sense of purpose in this life,” Nate said.

After volunteering at the bi-monthly Broward Outreach Center feeding project for a few months, Nate decided to take his volunteering to the next level and become a HandsOn Broward Project Leader. He went through the Project Leader Training in June of 2013, and has been leading the feeding project at Broward Outreach Center on the second Saturday of each month since.

“I have always considered myself more of a leader than a follower, so the role of Project Leader fits naturally with my strengths and skillset,” Nate said.

If you are interested in volunteering alongside Nate at a Broward Outreach Center project, you can sign up here. If you are interested in becoming a HandsOn Broward Project Leader, you can email Melissa.

When asked to sum up his overall experience as a volunteer, Nate said, “Volunteering is the greatest gift you can give to the community.  It does not require any special skills, just a giving spirit and a willingness to give more than you receive.”

Nonprofit Organizations and Youth Volunteers Team Up to Make Special Delivery to Local Students

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (March 4, 2014) – Students at Dillard Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale received a special delivery on Tuesday morning when staff from the local nonprofit, HandsOn Broward, stopped by to drop off books and care packages that were collected  and assembled by local youth volunteers. The project was initiated by the Children’s Services Council of Broward County (CSC) and organized by youth participating in HandsOn Broward’s Kids Care Club.

The purpose of the Kids Care Club is to engage young people in service activities that DSC_9367teach them about the impact that volunteers of any age can have on local communities. As part of the project, which is funded by the CSC, volunteers as young as five years old collected books and personal care items.  The items were assembled into “care kits” that were decorated by participants and delivered to Dillard Elementary.

“The CSC is an organization devoted to empowering children to become responsible, productive adults. That is why it’s great to see youth like the ones in the Kids Care Club take matters into their own hands and volunteer their time and efforts to help other children,” said Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, President/CEO of the CSC.

Created by the voters of Broward County in 2000 to provide leadership, advocacy and resources necessary to enhance children’s lives, the CSC funds over a hundred programs that serve children and families and has positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands of children since its inception.

“Thanks to the Children’s Services Council and the thousands of volunteers who give of their time each year, we’re able to give back to our local schools,” said Dale Hirsch, President and CEO of HandsOn Broward.  “We are grateful for the support of all those who help us to make a positive impact in Broward County each day.”

HandsOn Broward operates its Kids Care Club program out of its Lauderhill offices on a monthly basis.  The organization also provides leadership trainings and hands-on programs that impact a variety of issues including nonprofit capacity building, financial literacy coaching, leadership development, emergency response and national service initiatives.

About Children’s Services Council of Broward County:  The Children’s Services Council of Broward County is an independent taxing authority which was established by a public referendum on September 5, 2000, which, through Public Act, Chapter 2000-461 of the laws of Florida, authorized the Council to levy up to 0.5 mills of property taxes. The mission of the Council is to provide the leadership, advocacy and resources necessary to enhance children’s lives and empower them to become responsible, productive adults through collaborative planning and funding of a continuum of quality care.

About HandsOn Broward:  HandsOn Broward inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action to positively affect change in Broward County. To learn more about HandsOn Broward’s upcoming service opportunities or to schedule a volunteer orientation at your organization or place of business, please call 954.233.1300 or visit us online at http://www.HandsOnBroward.org

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March Volunteer Spotlight: Rachel Richards

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This month’s Volunteer Spotlight belongs to Rachel Richards. Rachel became a HandsOn Broward volunteer in August 2013. After graduating from college in 2012, Rachel started her career as a tax accountant. Once she adjusted to her work routine, she decided she wanted to get involved in service. “I really wanted to find a worthwhile cause and spend some time volunteering. I asked a couple of my friends if they would be interested in volunteering with me, and my friend Jeannine found HandsOn Broward’s website and suggested we try The Friendship Circle,” she said.

This wasn’t Rachel’s first experience with volunteering, however. “I have been volunteering on and off for what feels like my whole life. I grew up volunteering at Young at Art and the Museum of Discovery and Science. In college, I was part of many organizations that really emphasized charity work and community involvement. Before I knew it, what started out as a requirement became a passion,” Rachel said.

After finding out about The Friendship Circle, Rachel knew that was the volunteer opportunity she wanted to get involved in because she felt like she could truly make a difference there. “Volunteering with The Friendship Circle has been an amazing experience that has exceeded all of my expectations. It’s more than just writing a check or donating goods—actually being able to interact with these kids and know that you are making a difference is incredibly rewarding,” she said.

The Friendship Circle is dedicated to providing friendship to special needs children and young adults, and to create for the children and volunteers a comfortable, non-judgmental community environment. As a Friendship Circle volunteer, you are paired up with a child with special needs for weekly visits that provide invaluable friendship and experiences for both the child and the volunteers. About her experience, Rachel said, “All of the activities we do are really fun! Each week we play games to get to know each other and do a fun new activity. Between making donuts, candles, painting with watercolors, and dancing, there is always something new to look forward to every time we meet.”

When asked why other volunteers should get involved with The Friendship Circle, Rachel said, “The Friendship Circle is such a unique volunteering opportunity and an invaluable way to spend your time. I love being able to interact with the kids, build relationships and watch them grow and become more confident each week. Volunteering with The Friendship Circle has been such a fun and rewarding experience for me. I would love for others to have the same great opportunity.”

Rachel sees the value in volunteering in Broward County, and wants to make a difference in our community. “This is where I live, where I have grown up,” Rachel said. “I have a lot of pride in my community and would do anything I can to make it better. Realizing that you are part of something much bigger than yourself is humbling.”

For Rachel, the question as to why she enjoys volunteering is an easy one to answer. “Volunteering is a great way to make friends, build relationships, help others, and make a difference in your community. I am very aware and appreciative of this,” she said.

When asked what advice Rachel has for new volunteers, she said, “Find something that interests you and be open to new opportunities! You may be surprised by the things that you discover you are passionate about.”

If you would like to learn more or are interested in volunteering with The Friendship Circle, please click here.

We hope others are inspired by Rachel’s passion for our community. Thank you for all that you do, Rachel!