We are very excited to congratulate and introduce you to Greg Blackmon, a long-time contributor to the NYC community and a core part of our team! Greg has been part of Ariva since 2016 and was recently promoted to Volunteer Coordinator, supporting our free tax prep nyc program.
Greg began volunteering in youth development, working with the Bronx Pride Program and Bronx Defenders. Growing up in NYC, Greg knew he wanted to give back to his community and discovered the impact of nonprofit organizations in the Bronx. In addition, he realized he could use his background in math and accounting and his interest in taxes to bring financial literacy and security to the neighborhood.
“I decided to build my career in nonprofits because you can do something productive, have fun and make an impact. Learning financial literacy and being able to shed that light on others is my impact. It might seem relatively small, but teaching someone to create a budget or put money aside each week builds foundations for families,” Greg shares.
Greg volunteered as a seasonal tax manager at organizations including Public Allies, AmeriCorps, and Financial Planet. In addition, he helped people with nontraditional jobs like gig workers navigate the financial operations of their work. Finally, as a Program Coordinator for the Financial Clinic’s VITA Tax Program, Greg contributed to curriculum development for various financial counseling programs and clinics.
He became part of our staff in 2016, contributing as a Project Coordinator for a number of our initiatives. After six years of dedication, Greg was recently promoted as our Tax Program Volunteer Coordinator to optimize our free tax filing nyc volunteer program.
“Optimizing the program helps staff and volunteers work more efficiently on Ariva’s mission. Volunteers don’t have to jump through hoops to contact us, know where they need to be, or get the materials they need. We’re making it as easy as can be to be part of our team,” he says.
For Greg, working with volunteers is just as impactful as working with clients.
“Volunteers learn a new skill, interact with the community, and improve their communication skills. They gain valuable experience for free as part of this program,” he says.
Our team of 100+ committed volunteers brings so much value to our clients and community. That’s why we are constantly working to enhance our training programs and offerings. As a volunteer, you get access to free tax prep NYC training, official certification through the IRS, free personal income tax prep, and more. As someone with a lot of volunteering experience, Greg works to refine these programs so that our volunteer team is equipped to serve our clients and have the necessary support they need.
“It’s essential to be deliberate to ensure our free tax prep nyc programs actually help our clients, as opposed to imposing what we think people need,” Greg explains.
Greg’s current project unifies our free financial help services with our free NYC tax prep services. He believes volunteers can provide financial guidance when reviewing taxes with their clients. In doing so, we can create personalized plans and help clients improve over time.
For example, refunds are some of our clients’ largest sums of money throughout the year. While some may already have the funds allocated, we encourage them to consider a savings plan and think ahead to the following year. Getting folks into the mindset of saving for uncertain situations in the future builds a stable financial foundation.
“Clients share their stories while we’re doing their taxes. We hear about their troubles throughout the year: managing or expecting a check that didn’t come, dealing with emergencies. We want to make sure they can navigate those times and be in a better financial position in the future,” says Greg.
Greg is very excited about what lies ahead, and we are grateful for his hard work and leadership.
Interested in making a difference in the NYC community? We’re recruiting Tax Program Volunteers for the 2023 tax season! Check out these ways to get involved: