Gladys Obando came to the United States from Panama at sixteen years old, leaving behind her family and everything she knew. While they stayed in close touch – joyfully celebrating everything from birthdays to Gladys’ high school graduation by phone – she was alone to find her way in a new country.
Meanwhile, the community at HUF was present for her, helping Gladys realize that there are no limits to what she could achieve. After being referred to HUF by the Hepburn Center, she received help filing her taxes through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at HUF. This completely free service helps clients find extra tax credits and maximize their refunds, channeling money back to the people who need it most.
With HUF at her side, Gladys refused to give up while pursuing her goals, trying again & again each time she experienced a setback. Soon, she became a volunteer so that she could help others on their journey to independence and prosperity. After earning completing extensive IRS training and receiving her Tax Preparation Certificate, Gladys joined HUF’s staff for the VITA program. Over time, HUF has become not just her employer, but her family.
In striving for our own versions of the American dream, we are stronger together. Programs like VITA, which offers services in five different languages, supports diverse families and households. Like other HUF programs, VITA is powered by the generosity of donors and volunteers who believe in the future we can build together.
Read more anniversary celebration stories in our blog!
>> Earlier this year, Ana Maria Ceballos, HUF’s VITA Coordinator, and Gladys talked about the VITA program with the Univision 23 Miami. Click here to watch the interview in Spanish (fast-forward to minute 16:05).