Power Of 9: St. James Workers

Power of 9: St. James Workers (February)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - You'll find them in most parish governmental offices. Norma Moran is what you call an "Essential Person"...says so right on her name tag. But in fact, at the moment 9News visited, Norma was not working. She works as a VITA volunteer on top of the work she does for the parish.

Moran confessed that she likes doing taxes. She and eight other employees in the Human Services section wade through the forms...as volunteers. Norma told WAFB's Donna Britt that she's logged more than 50 hours, this year alone!

Work and volunteer supervisor Sheila Clayton says when you combine all the work of St. James' nine volunteers, they have helped approximately 350 people do their taxes. 350 tax forms! "We have been doing 2 to 300 for the past, I would say 6 years," said Clayton.

Bedar Warren is an employee who's been a VITA volunteer since the very beginning in St. James Parish.

Britt wondered how workers found their tax preparation clients. Warren said "It was a natural progression from what we were already doing.." for needy clients.

Donna asked, "So they were going out and paying for a tax preparer?" Warren answered, "Right, and that was more income that could've had to help them to become self-sufficient."

Supervisor Clayton said they tend to do most of their volunteer work when business is slow in the office. That's usually in the months of January (after Christmas) and February (around Carnival).

As it turns out, Clayton told Donna she has worked for St. James Parish for 34 years, and she retires as of March first. Will the volunteer work continue? Donna asked.

"I hope they can continue in the magnitude that we are working now," Clayton said, "helping, because there's still a need and we will always have people that need this assistance. And that they will continue to educate, educate, educate, because, after all, it's their money. They earn it, and we want them to receive all of it."

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