Celebrating a legacy of service

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”

Jackson County United Way is upholding that belief by offering a volunteer opportunity Monday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to help spread the word about two free programs available to assist low-income families in the community.

Also, free legal advice is being offered locally Monday in the spirit of helping others on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Around 10 to 12 people are needed to canvas areas of the county to increase awareness of On My Way Pre-K and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

“We will be hanging door hangers with information on both programs on this day of service,” said Bonita Dobbs, program manager for Jackson County United Way.

With assistance from United Way’s 2-1-1 information hotline, areas in Brownstown, Crothersville, Medora and Seymour have been identified to possibly benefit from the information.

On My Way Pre-K is a state-funded voucher program available at 13 local preschool providers in the county. The program, which is free to families, supports children who otherwise may not be prepared for kindergarten by teaching them standards to begin school on equal footing to their peers.

Registration for On My Way Pre-K begins Monday.

The VITA program is for households with income of $54,000 or less and allows people to have their taxes prepared and filed at no cost by IRS-certified volunteers.

“By using this free program, our clients are able to keep the $300 or more it may cost to file for a rapid refund, which is money that is already theirs,” Dobbs said. “And I recently learned that banks often charge approximately $50 to cash those rapid refund checks.”

VITA has helped more than 1,600 people in Jackson County claim more than $1.6 million in refunds. Appointments will begin in February.

“Both programs are so important to families in our community that are hardworking but barely getting by,” Dobbs said.

Boy Scout Troop 510 from Brownstown and the Working for Our Dreams 4-H Club are two of the volunteer groups that have committed to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day project, Dobbs said.

“It’s a great opportunity because people are driven by Martin Luther King’s quote, ‘Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?’ but often don’t know what volunteer opportunities are available,” she said.

“We hope this will be a learning experience for the volunteers and hope they enjoy advocating for the working family and providing information on valuable resources,” Dobbs said.

Free legal assistance

Those needing legal assistance can stop by the Jackson County Public Library, 303 W. Second St., Seymour, from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday for the annual Talk to a Lawyer Today program sponsored by the Indiana State Bar Association.At that time, a lawyer will be available at no cost for brief 10- to 15-minute consultations to answer general legal questions and offer information.

The program is an opportunity for attorneys to provide free legal consultations to those who might not otherwise be able to afford the counsel of an attorney.

Seymour attorney Mark Risser also will offer the pro bono service at his office, 1411 Corporate Way.

At a glance

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

On Monday, volunteers are needed to hang door hangers in areas throughout the county to increase awareness of On My Way Pre-K and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, both free programs available to low-income families.

Anyone interested in volunteering may call Bonita Dobbs at 812-522-5450 or email bonita@jacsy.org.

Free legal advice through Talk to a Lawyer Today program

Where: Jackson County Public Library, 303 W. Second St., Seymour; also at the office of Seymour attorney Mark Risser, 1411 Corporate Way

When: 9 to 11 a.m. Monday

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.