Feb. 22, 2019 - Students at Ribault High School are giving back to their community members in dollars and cents.
Through a four-week training program available to students in the school’s Vystar Academy of Business and Finance, more than 100 students have become certified as volunteer tax preparers. The program is through Realsense, which is a branch of United Way.
With their certification, these teenagers spend their time completing tax returns for free for community members like Lorraine Mathis.
Mathis went to Ribault knowing that there was a Realsense tax program where tax return assistance was provided for free. What she didn't know, was that it was going to an 18-year-old, specifically senior Kezavior Bryant, providing that assistance.
But Mathis said her initial shock and skepticism soon gave way to pleasant surprise.
“He found some mistakes that I had put in the paperwork,” said Mathis. “He was very nice about it and helped me understand. You can really learn from anybody – you’re never too old.”
For Bryant’s part, he said he is use to the initial reaction from clients at learning a student will be preparing their taxes. He said he enjoys seeing them slowly gain confidence in him and his peers as they demonstrate their capability. He also said he is proud that as a young person, he can give back to his community.
“I do care about those who come in for their taxes,” said Bryant. “I know I can help them, and they recognize and appreciate that.”
Community members are showing their appreciation by coming back year after year. The program’s director, Phyleshia Jones, said she is proud of how far her students have come in just three years and how enthusiastic they are about tax preparation.
“The first year we only did 38 returns,” said Jones. “This year we’ve already done about 20 in the first week! We want to do at least 100 before the season’s over.”
You can get your taxes done for free by the students at Ribault with an appointment or by walking-in on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 2-6 p.m. through April 10. To schedule an appointment, click here.