PIcture of Martin Wang

What Volunteering Has Given Me

Martin Wang is a junior at Glenelg High School. He volunteers for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, hosted by MakingChange in Laurel. If he’s not helping others with taxes, he’s usually playing soccer as a member of the Glenelg varsity team. Here Wang reflects on his volunteering experiences that led to his recent county recognition.

This past month I was named 2016 Howard County Youth Volunteer of the Year for the time I spent at the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. At VITA, we serve low-income families seeking tax preparation assistance free of charge. Working at VITA is extremely rewarding and for me, it’s a little odd being congratulated and rewarded for doing something so enjoyable. Nonetheless, this recognition is an enormous honor.

My sister, who is two years older than me and a VITA veteran, was the one who suggested that I spend time working with VITA. I was a little apprehensive at first. Understandably, I was worried that I wasn’t going to enjoy my time punching in numbers into tax preparation software for four hours. When I get bored, I lose focus and I would be doing a disservice to our clients as they looked for help completing their taxes. However, as cliché as it sounds, over time volunteering has become a major part of my life. I couldn’t imagine my winter seasons without it. The satisfaction that serving those who truly require assistance brings is unparalleled. The “warm fuzzies” are what drive me and the other volunteers at VITA to continue doing what we do.

Volunteering at VITA has taught me a number of skills that a classroom environment never could. It’s taught me to be more courteous, patient and understanding. It’s allowed me to step out of the bubble that I live in and become involved in the lives of others in more need than me, and it’s made me open to aspects of my community that I’ve never been exposed to. I was taught to display compassion and work with passion, and I hope more youth become involved in volunteering. It truly is a rewarding experience, with lessons to learn and experiences to share.

I would like to thank the people at VITA and its host organization, MakingChange, for giving me the opportunity to serve the Howard County community. In particular, I want to thank Mr. Mike Couch, Mrs. Michelle Moore and Mr. Jeffrey Clark for their leadership in the VITA program, both past and present.