A $40,624 tax refund is life-changing. That’s exactly what Jacqui Chavarria, one of our phenomenal AmeriCorps members from El Paso, Texas, did–changed a life–as part of her service in Los Angeles.

AmeriCorps volunteer Tax PrepThis AmeriCorps Week, we want to recognize the commitment of the millions of Americans like Jacqui who serve their country through AmeriCorps service. We’re honored to host eight AmeriCorps members from across the country for a four-month service project this tax season.

Along with her cohort, Jacqui has been preparing taxes with our Community Connect partner Eastmont Community Center (ECC) as a certified volunteer tax preparer. Last month, when Jacqui sat down with Josselyn, a 28 year-old single mother and rideshare driver, she had no idea what a difference her work could make.

Josselyn lives in South Los Angeles with her three young daughters. She hadn’t filed her taxes for years because she didn’t understand the process and was nervous after a bad tax prep experience.

At first, Josselyn planned to only file her taxes for 2022. Then, she learned that she could still file for previous years and claim the stimulus money she never received during the pandemic.

Jacqui made sure that Josselyn received all the tax credits that she was eligible for based on her income and household size including the Child Tax Credit, federal EITC, and CalEITC.

“When I was working on her returns, I was constantly updating her on the amount of money she was getting back,” said Jacqui. “The number just kept going up and up. By the time she heard the final amount of $40,624, she was speechless and shocked. She actually asked me to repeat the amount a few times from disbelief.”

While her final tax refund is a large amount, Josselyn plans to use the money to pay back debt that piled up during the pandemic and finally get back on track after years of worrying about money.

“She even told me that she might start a business,” said Jacqui. “I felt very accomplished being able to help her file her taxes, especially since she has three little girls that will be very blessed with that money.”