Scroll down to see and read stories of Oakdale Neighbors. Then, forward this to a friend. Ask your friend to subscribe to our e-news and to donate to Oakdale Neighbors. Thank you for helping us share stories of community development.   Blessings to you in this Christmas Season, Tom Bulten
Oakdale Neighbors

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Board News
Oakdale Neighbors welcomes Amanda Barnett and Deb VanDuinen to its board of directors. Amanda is a teacher at River City Scholars Charter Academy and has been active in the community garden. Deb is a long-time volunteer in Oakdale Neighbors’ youth programs and a member of Oakdale Park Church. Thank you to Walter Mathis, Jr. for serving as chair of the board the last two years and to Joan Huyser-Honig for serving as chair of the board for 2014-2015.

Dear Friends,
Thank you for helping us strengthen families and improve the community this year. Together we accomplished many things:
  • 75 youth were mentored and nurtured
  • 202 tax returns were completed by volunteers
  • 57 bicycles were distributed or sold
  • 90 referrals or offers of help were made for neighbors
As you celebrate the gift of Christ this season, please consider giving to Oakdale Neighbors.
  • Your gift of $300 will enable tax volunteers to generate $10,000 in refunds and credits.
  • A gift of $200 equips staff and volunteers to tutor in a neighborhood school for a morning.
  • Your gift of $100 keeps the bike shop open one afternoon for neighbors that need affordable transportation.
By giving, you’ll enable Olivia to receive important tax credits for her family. You’ll help an Afghani refugee learn how to repair a bike. You’ll help neighbors meet with their community police officer to build a safer neighborhood. You’ll help struggling youth continue learning during the summer. Thank you for being part of this Christian community development project with us in 2015.
In mission together, 

Tom Bulten,
Executive Director






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Oakdale Neighbors
1260 Kalamazoo SE
Grand Rapids MI 49507

Tax Credit Encourages Work and Promotes Success in School

Living in poverty is a grinding, humiliating, daily challenge—working two low-wage jobs...commuting for an hour to each job...struggling to go to school in the evening...deciding which bills might not be paid this month.  Children suffer the most in poverty.

Our society has created several tools to give our brothers and sisters a “step up” or a “helping hand”. One of the best investments we 
make is through tax credits for the poor.  Some tax credits reduce a person’s tax liability. Others increase a person’s income. One is designed to help a poor family heat their home in the winter. Another helps low-income people pay their rent or their property tax bill. The Education Credit encourages individuals to further their education and develop skills.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is particularly valuable.  The Brookings Institute has outlined some of the social benefits of the EITC: This tax credit reduces poverty. It does so, in part, by encouraging work. The more a poor person works, the higher the credit will be. At a modest income level, the credit begins to decrease back to zero. This credit promotes success in school for children that are living in poverty. The EITC is an important way for us to invest and reinvest in urban areas and neighborhoods.  Every dollar that the Federal government spends on the EITC generates $1.58 in local economic activity. All of us benefit when the local economy thrives.

Oakdale Neighbors’ free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program helps low-income people access these credits to pay bills and improve their lives. Our volunteers work with neighbors to prepare their tax returns and submit the required forms to receive the credits. Money is deposited in bank accounts within two weeks of submission.

Many poor people are attracted to the “rapid refunds” available at commercial tax services. However, rapid refund loans are a mixed blessing for struggling households. First, they pay $180 or more for the tax service. Then, they pay $100 or more in fees and interest for the rapid refund loan.  Oakdale Neighbors’ service provides 100% of the refund at no cost to the client.

Oakdale Neighbors’ volunteers take the time to review important and intimate details of neighbors lives during the tax preparation process. Sometimes the volunteers educate neighbors about savings, business management, college education, civic duty, and tax law.

Why does Oakdale Neighbors offer Volunteer Income Tax Assistance?’s one of the most cost-effective investments our small organization can make. Typical tax credits for a family can be $700 for rent, $100 for home heating, and $600 for education. The Earned Income Tax Credit can be more than $5,000 for a low-wage worker with a family. A father making $13,000 per year effectively receives a 40% pay increase through the EITC.  This credit helps his family get back on its feet or move ahead.

Oakdale Neighbors needs to raise $8,000 every year to run the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program which generates $250,000 in refunds and credits—a 3000% return on investment for families and the community.  We appreciate your generous contribution for this and other programs of Oakdale Neighbors.

Can you help us encourage and reward hard work? If you want to volunteer, call us at 248.2848 or email us at 
What We Do
You and Oakdale Neighbors are creating a neighborhood of vitality and grace—a healthy and thriving neighborhood of families that work together for the common good. We are discovering and developing skills and resources in the neighborhood by interacting with neighbors through advocacy, tax credits and refunds, and youth development. We connect neighbors and resources through organizing and action, and Timebank Grand Rapids. As we work together growing gardens and green space, rebuilding bikes at Boston Square Community Bikes, or planning other neighborhood projects we weave a neighborhood tapestry and a close-knit community.

If you appreciate what we do, please donate to Oakdale Neighbors:

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