Reasons to Celebrate

This weekend I had the chance to spend time with my parents who were nice enough to fly all the way up to Seattle to see me. I realized recently that, since graduating from college last June, I’ve spent about two weeks total at my home in Encinitas making 2014 the year that I have been away from home the most. For those that know me well, my parents included, it’s odd for me to willingly choose to be away for so long. I love all of the wonderful things that welcome me home each time I visit from the warm beaches to my incredible family to the Mexican restaurants on every street corner. Encinitas is a fantastic place that I’ve grown to love increasingly more each year. Being away for so long has really taken a toll so having the opportunity to see two of my favorite people couldn’t have come at a better moment. 

I’ve been in Seattle now for three weeks and have really grown to love the area. I’m not much of a city dweller, but I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to experience what living in a major bustling city is truly like. While my parents were here, we did some of the more touristy things that I had been putting off including an underground tour of old Seattle. We had a great time learning about the history of this city and how the community built itself into what we see today.

After the tour, I heard some great news– I made the fire management team! Following the end of round two, I’ll be joining 19 others in becoming certified as a wild land fire fighter and will work on service projects in the El Dorado Forest focused on environmental stewardship and conservation. Through this program, I’ve discovered my passion for working outdoors and have grown incredibly interested in working for the National Park Service. FMT will be a great opportunity for me to gain skills and qualities that will directly help me accomplish my career goals. I’m so excited for this opportunity, and equally excited that I get to experience this journey with a number of my close friends who have also made the team.

As for right now, my team and I are still plugging away at our project. We’re serving with United Way of King County on their Free Tax Campaign. What do I know about taxes? Well at first, absolutely nothing. However, after three days of training my teammates and I are now IRS advanced certified to prepare taxes. To date, I’ve prepared over 45 tax returns and have helped clients receive tens of thousands of dollars back, all for free. At first I was nervous to be handling something so important. There’s a very real possibility that I could make a detrimental mistake on someone’s return. Now that we’re a few weeks into the project, though, we’re all feeling really comfortable with the work and I feel very capable to do things that I would have never imagined myself doing just a few weeks ago.

When I first told people I had a tax round, a lot of people recognized immediately the negative aspects to a project like this. However, so far I have had nothing but positive experiences. We get to work closely with a number of clients everyday, most of which are incredibly grateful for the work we’re doing. On a number of occasions, I filed returns that helped clients get thousands of dollars back that they didn’t expect to receive. Seeing the look of relief and gratitude on clients faces when they see how much they’re receiving is such a fulfilling experience and has really made this project more rewarding than I can ever really express.

We’ll be here until the end of March when we’ll head back to campus and I’ll leave my team to join the FMT. Until then I’m staying busy in my free time training for FMT and my second half marathon, as well as using every opportunity I can to be outdoors experiencing the beauty of the Pacific North West. I’ll keep you all posted as always about my adventures!

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