NEW YORK—Patricia Cadogan is an avid volunteer.
After many years of looking for ways and possibilities to give back to the community, the opportunity presented itself. Cadogan joined the Food Bank For New York City's tax preparation program, where she uses her knowledge and education to help fellow New Yorkers file their taxes correctly, and receive the tax returns and benefits for which they are eligible.
She speaks with a degree of calmness and measure, trying to use the precise words to describe her feelings. She does not like to talk about herself. It is more about the work of the food bank, she said. Born in Trinidad, she has been a resident of New York City for almost 40 years.
The Epoch Times: Why did you decide to volunteer?
Ms. Patricia Cadogan: I am an accountant. I always wanted to give back at this aspect. That opportunity came in 2009, when my schedule was freed up. I had more time to devote to volunteering.
The core of the volunteer preparer work is to review the paperwork the client comes in with and to prepare their taxes. The season starts after training in the last week of January and it goes until April 15.
The Epoch Times: What do you enjoy about it?
Ms. Cadogan: I like that … here I am participating in something that allows people who don't have an opportunity, to get their taxes done for free. They are so grateful. Many of them are really surprised this is really free. I enjoy that I can use some of my knowledge to be involved in something that is helpful.
I am also learning. Tax preparation is very complex.
Many people come in intimidated, nervous, but once they see the professional service, and that everything is being completed for them, they relax immediately. I had clients who hugged me, and clients who thanked me so much. I found that [to be] very, very special. I go home feeling so happy that I can't wait for the next time I am scheduled to go.
The Epoch Times: Is the spirit of volunteering common in New York City?
Ms. Cadogan: Over the years that I have been volunteering in different places, there is a very strong spirit by all volunteers. I noticed that it has been growing and growing and it is becoming more and more.
It is quite evident when something comes out that the food bank is doing something. If you don't get on very quickly to register, it can fill out within 24 hour. New Yorkers have become more empathetic to their fellow New Yorkers.
After doing the tax preparation and becoming more familiar with the food bank, there is always something going on.
It is amazing that right now the emergency food program is seeing so many cuts. This is the largest city in America, it’s most dynamic, and it is a business center. We can all give one fragment of our time.