VITA: “Kingdom work in business”

Laura O’Neil  

Student Writer 

This semester, 24 Geneva students are serving the Beaver Falls community through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA offers students experience with tax processing and practical service for the kingdom of God. “This is how you do kingdom work in business,” Grace Weaver, one of the on-sight student coordinators said.  

To participate in the program, students complete three on-line tests for certification. This prepares students to provide quality services to their clients, beyond what would be expected from a free tax service.  Dr. Gary Vander Plaats orchestrates Geneva College’s current role in the VITA program, offering participation in VITA as an alternative to students for the tax class final exam. Paige Harlan, a senior Accounting major with a concentration in business, and Grace Weaver, a junior studying Accounting and Finance, are the on-sight coordinators this semester.  

Harlan expressed how this role enables her to exercise student leadership and foster relationships with her fellow students. VITA encourages a team atmosphere among students. Weaver said, “All the students are really close. I love that.”  

This program enables students to apply their tax return training to real life situations. Harlan expressed her appreciation for the program, stating how working with VITA helps students retain the information that they learn in class. Weaver said, “[VITA] helps us learn so much, even more than the taxation class does.”  

The VITA program is education beyond the classroom, teaching students interpersonal skills and how to interact with clients. Students develop time management, organizational skills, and responsibility.  

VITA is one of the many internship opportunities for students. Geneva College is passionate about providing students with hands-on experience in their field of study. 75% of students engage in internship opportunities while studying at Geneva.  

Geneva College has partnered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) intermittently since the 1970s to file tax returns for the elderly and those who cannot pay for regular tax return services in the Beaver Falls community. This servant attitude is part of what Geneva College stands for, not a new development.  

Beyond Geneva, the Beaver Falls community is grateful for the role of Geneva students in the tax return process. Blessing clients in this way is setting an example of Christ-centered service and demonstrating that this is who we are at Geneva College. It fosters in students a desire to serve and give back to the community.  

Both Weaver and Harlan expressed how blessed their clients were by their services. Harlan shared, “Giving them back their tax returns... just to see the smiles on their faces and hear their thank yous... it’s just so rewarding to see that.”