Jim and Mary Ann Emswiler

VITA Site Coordinators

Jim and Mary Ann Emswiler were presented with a Game Changer Award for their efforts in leading the Hamden VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) site, which they started from the ground up three years ago. Previously, Jim was a VITA volunteer for over 15 years. When Mary Ann retired, they learned about Hamden’s ALICE statistics and took initiative to make a difference in the community.

Now serving as VITA site coordinators, the Emswilers recruit, train, and schedule the volunteers who help serve hundreds of people from the region each year. Jim and Mary Ann serve as tax preparers themselves, often taking complicated returns home to finish after hours.

Over the past three years, the Hamden VITA site has brought in $2.3 million in tax returns for low-income families in the region. The Emswilers have a heart for helping people, and they go above and beyond to make sure their VITA services are provided with excellence, dignity, and compassion.

“Serving in the community has reinforced for me how much goodness there is in our neighbors, both in the people we serve and the people who volunteer.” – Mary Ann Emswiler

For the Emswilers, one of the best things about coordinating a VITA site is getting to know the people who return each year. “There are young people who finish training and get first-time jobs – often to support family members, couples who get married and come back with children, elderly people who are living and thriving on their own,” Mary Ann reminisced. “There’s a common humanity to all of it and I always feel privileged to be a part of it.”