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VITA Clinic, Technology Services, and the Community Garden Keep Trinfo Buzzing

Trinfo Café is fulfilling its mission of being a neighborhood hub this spring. The VITA tax clinic hosted at Trinfo is in full swing with a contactless drop off model. Students in Professor Serena Laws’ course “Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford” are staffing the clinic. The students have been trained as IRS-certified tax preparers and are gaining hands-on experience assisting clients with tax filing.

Serena Laws and Cynthia Mena at the VITA drop-off table outside of Trinfo.
Serena Laws and Cynthia Mena at the VITA drop-off table outside of Trinfo.

By the numbers, the VITA clinic has already been a great success. As of March 30th, tax preparation drop off appointments were booked through the clinic’s last day of April 16th. The Clinic has prepared and submitted 191 returns as of March 31, 2021. “It’s been a busier year than usual, even though we are open for fewer client contact hours and have all kinds of extra procedures due to COVID,” says Laws.

The clinic is also offering a printing service for clients who had their tax returns prepared at fully virtual VITA clinics in the Hartford area. The printing service has been picking up throughout the clinic’s season, printing around a dozen returns a week for clients from other sites.

Students in Professor Serena Laws’ course “Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford” are staffing the clinic. The students have been trained as IRS-certified tax preparers and are gaining hands-on experience assisting clients with tax filing. 
Students in Professor Serena Laws’ course “Tax Policy and Inequality in Hartford” are staffing the clinic. The students have been trained as IRS-certified tax preparers and are gaining hands-on experience assisting clients with tax filing.

Laws notes that their drop off model — in contrast with fully virtual sites —  has been helpful for many clients. “We have had numerous clients who relied on our ability to provide the in-person, drop off option. The virtual alternative is really challenging, due to limited English language, lack of computer access or skills, and in several cases disability,” writes Laws.

The VITA clinic is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 10am to 2pm from February 9th through April 16th. On alternate days — Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday — Trinfo is open for patrons seeking its typical year round services. Patrons can stop in for printing, faxing, scanning, or to use the computers and wifi. Trinfo will return to regular hours, Monday through Friday 9 am to 5 pm, starting April 26th.

We’re also looking forward to the reopening of the Trinfo community garden. The garden brings Trinity together with the surrounding community. The garden’s purpose as a place of community convening will be strengthened this year by the presence of students from Trinity’s Multicultural Affairs Council Community Connectivity Committee. The students have great energy and passion for gardening and food. They are learning about gardening this spring through a three part “Gardening 101” workshop series with CHER team member Gabby Nelson.

The buzz at Trinfo is keeping Director Carlos Espinosa and Program Manager Cynthia Mena busy, but the work is worth it to be able to connect the community to services, technology, and food.