Short Takes

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized


Published on March 29, 2011 with No Comments


Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

Some tax preparation slots remain open for low moderate income and elderly looking to have their taxes prepared at no charge for the 2010 tax season, said George Kuebler, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance facilitator for Porter County with the United Way Regional Volunteer Center. Tax preparation under the VITA program can be done for those filers who have adjusted gross incomes of $49,000 or less. Through April 7, tax preparation hours are 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday and Thursday, and 1-4 p.m. on Tuesday. To accommodate last-minute tax filers the facility is now opened, by appointment only, on Friday, April 8, Monday, April 11 and Friday, April 15 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tax filing deadline has been extended this year to April 18. For one day only this year, walk-in tax preparation is being offered between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 7. Kuebler cautions the wait time may back up because it is hard to predict the volume of interest. In either case, by appointment or walk-in a number of specific documents are required in order to have the tax preparation done. These include: social security cards for all those being claimed, identification such as a driver’s license, all sources of income from W-2s for earned income, a social security statement, pension income and dividend or interest income from such organizations as banks or brokers. “Bringing in the previous year tax return is also very helpful,” Kuebler said. “Returns are filed electronically and taxpayers are required to sign a release which allows the VITA tax preparation program to send the files electronically.” The United Way of Porter County is located at 951 Eastport Centre Drive in Valparaiso. For more information about the program, contact George Kuebler at 464-3583, ext. 128, at george@unitedwaypc.org, or visit www.nwivolunteer.org.


Take Pride in Portage

On April 9, beginning at 9 a.m., Mayor Olga G. Velazquez along with the city of Portage Park Department is sponsoring a “Take Pride in Portage Clean-Up Day.” All individuals and community service groups are encouraged to participate by donating their community service hours while helping to beautify the city. Interested participants should report to one of four locations, whichever is most convenient, at 8:45 a.m. on April 9. The locations are: Woodland Park in the parking lot in front of the Community Center, Imagination Glen parking lot, Portage High School front parking lot, and Willowcreek Middle School east parking lot. At each of these locations, a Park Department representative will assign groups of three or four to different areas of the city to pick up trash, at intersections, along roads, at railroad crossings, etc. Everyone will be issued trash bags and a map for their location. Bring gloves, weather appropriate clothing (rain included), and sturdy shoes. Volunteers should plan on working for about three hours. Individuals helping on this day will enjoy pizza and pop and water at the Blue Spruce Room at the Portage Yacht Club from 12-1 p.m. For anyone else who just wants to help clean up the city, feel free to organize clean-up efforts within your neighborhood, or at your church or workplace. If you have signed up already to sponsor a trail, this would be a great day to do one of your quarterly clean-ups as well. Everyone should pick up trash wherever the need exists. To register volunteers, choose your meeting location or for more information, call the Portage Park Department at 762-1675.

Response to Japan Crisis

United Way Worldwide is now accepting contributions on their Web site for the Central Community Chest of Japan, a member of the United Way worldwide network. “We’ve all been shocked and moved by the images and stories coming out of Japan following (the) earthquakes, tsunami, and now, nuclear crisis. Around the globe, people are responding with support for the people of Japan,” Lou Martinez, Lake Area United Way president said. The Central Community Chest of Japan has set a fund, but chaos and the situation inside the country are preventing them from setting up a Web site where people can give direct donations. United Way Worldwide is now accepting contributions on their behalf, according to Martinez, and 100 percent of all contributions will be directed to the Community Chest of Japan through United Way’s International Donor Advised Giving program. The Central Community Chest of Japan is a national organization with a vast network of local members. There are 47 Prefectural Community Chests, one located in each Prefecture, and there are 2,217 district offices and branch offices located in municipalities throughout Japan. CCCJ is working with government, local businesses and other non-government organizations to coordinate the response on the ground. It has promoted national welfare throughout the country for more than 60 years. For more information or to support Japanese recovery efforts, visit www.liveunited.org.


Rebuilding Together Duneland

Rebuilding Together Duneland needs volunteers to help out on Saturday, April 30 for National Rebuilding Day. The deadline for applications is April 10. This is a great opportunity to help make a difference in the Duneland Community. Skilled or unskilled, all over the age of 14 are welcome. Local companies can bring employees together for a volunteer team building opportunity. Applications are available at Hopkins Ace Hardware in Chesterton, the Westchester Public Library Reference Desk, the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, Chesterton High School’s front office, and online at www.rtduneland.org. There is no same-day registration. RTD is pleased to have Construction Coordinator Co-chairs Ryan Grossman and Mike Dunlap this year. RTD works to make a sustainable impact in partnership with the community where volunteers serve. These volunteers, with the help of local sponsors and product and material donors, work to ensure that low-income homeowners, particularly those who are elderly and disabled, as well as families with children, live in warmth, safety and independence. “Our organization focuses specifically on the issues of homeownership, the elderly, disabled, and families with children, Jocelyn Hibshman, president of RTD said. “The rising federal deficit combined with the cost of health care help identify the challenges associated with these issues; therefore, we are better able to understand a homeowner problem and create sustainable solutions for the homeowners we serve. Our sponsors, individual donations and volunteers make a world of difference to our community homeowners in need.” Hibshman was featured on WDSO radio on March 24 spreading awareness for the work day and the need for volunteers. For more information about RTD or its work day, call 926-3233, or visit www.rtduneland.org.


Text to Help Japan

The Salvation Army in Japan is responding to the earthquake and tsunami that brought devastation to the north of the country. Communication and travel have been badly affected by the disaster, and at the moment the true cost in human life and property can still only be guessed. The most damaged city is Sendai, about 400 kilometers away from Tokyo. “Our building swayed tremendously. It was hard for us to keep standing and many of us were really frightened,” Commissioner Makoto Yoshida, leader of The Salvation Army’s Japan Territory who was at territorial headquarters in Tokyo when the disaster struck, said. Public transport in Tokyo stopped because of the earthquake, leaving many commuters unable to leave work. General Shaw Clifton, the international leader of The Salvation Army, has already been in touch with the commissioner to assure him of the prayers and support of Salvationists around the world. Those in the U.S. can contribute to the Salvation Army’s earthquake relief efforts by texting the word “Japan” to 80888 to give a $10 donation. A one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. For more information, visit www.mobilecause.com. The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church, has been supporting those in need without discrimination since 1865. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. For more information, visit www.salvationarmyusa.org.

Portage YMCA

Community Support Campaign

The Portage Township YMCA is launching its Annual Community Support Campaign to financially support individuals and families in need, so they can participate in YMCA programs and services. Funds raised directly support the Y’s cause of strengthening communities by nurturing the potential of every youth and teen, improving the nation’s health and well-being, and providing opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Providing financial support is critical to the Y’s goal of ensuring that everyone has access to programs and services that support their individual health and well-being. The “One Shining Moment” kick-off event will take place April 14 at 7:30 a.m. with a breakfast at the YMCA. At the breakfast, games will be played, and testimonials of those who have received assistance will be shared. The public phase of the campaign will run April 14 through May 12. “At the Y, we count on the generosity of our donors and volunteers to make a meaningful impact on our community,” Ryan Penrod, senior program director at the Portage YMCA, said. “We believe that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our kids, our health and our neighbors.” Gifts to the Portage Township YMCA make a direct impact to the community. Last year, financial support made it possible for 38 youths to take advantage of Y-Care, a before and after school care program for children in grades K-5, have a safe place to learn and build confidence. For more information about the event or how to support the “One Shining Moment” Community Campaign, contact Penrod at 762-9622, at ryan@ymcaofportage.org, or visit www.ymcaofportage.org.

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