By Hayley Hervieux
From October to April, Ernest Chase is a very busy man, setting up training schedules, classes and travel while making sure his troupe of volunteers is up to speed. This leaves little time for much else, but he still manages to find time to volunteer at his church and care for his wife. Why is Ernie so busy?
Ernie is a Tax-Aide volunteer, but not just any volunteer. He’s one of only a handful of lead training specialists for the state of Texas. Tax season begins in October for Ernie because there’s so much to do to prepare for the months ahead. Each year, he begins his endless list of tasks all over again.
Every year, he travels to a nationwide conference to learn about changes to federal tax law and AARP Tax-Aide procedures. Then he takes his new knowledge home to share. He trains other district leaders on all the latest, then trains volunteers in his district. Ernie also monitors two of Bexar County’s Tax-Aide sites personally.
It’s a very involved process, but Ernie has to maintain high standards to match with the IRS. Because tax laws are always changing, training is never-ending and volunteers get re-trained every year. It’s a tough job—but somebody’s got to do it.
Ernie has been a volunteer with Tax-Aide, in one way or another, for more than 15 years. Although it keeps him busy, he has found it incredibly rewarding. He’s helping people who are struggling to get their taxes filed, he says, and knowing that he is truly making a difference is all that he needs to keep going.
Volunteers like Ernie are the lifeblood of the Tax-Aide program. Ernie’s continual search for new volunteers has been incredibly rewarding. In 2012, he recruited a record number of potential volunteers and trained a record number of new counselors. Numbers matter when it comes to Tax-Aide.
More volunteers means sites can stay open longer with less strain on each individual, which resulted in an 8 percent increase in the number of tax returns filed locally. Ernie’s energy and enthusiasm have made him one of the main people who keeps the tax program humming—and growing—in San Antonio.
Leading up to the June 1 Andrus Award nomination deadline, we’re profiling some of 2012’s amazing nominees. Every single person nominated deserves recognition for the incredible work they do in their local communities. If you know someone like this, be sure to nominate them before June 1!