Delaware Governor-Elect Jack Markell with Widener Law students Laura Haushalter and Adam Ludman.
When Delaware Governor-Elect Jack Markell decided to hold a press conference where he talked, in part, about the power of volunteerism, his team tapped Widener Law student Laura Haushalter to take a turn at the podium during the news event.
The third-year law student coordinates the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA, on the Delaware campus. Student Adam Ludman, who co-directs the program, attended the Dec. 4 press conference in Wilmington, too.
“I’ve always been a public-service minded individual,” Haushalter said. The Pittsburgh native and Trolley Square resident said she has volunteered three years with the VITA program, in which students provide low-income people free assistance with their tax preparation.
“It was the best way I could work in the Delaware community, meet Delaware people and continue my work as a full-time law student,” she said of the VITA program. Haushalter also holds down a job in the office of U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, where she provides constituent service to veterans and members of the military. That job draws on skills gleaned through her work with Widener’s Veterans Law Clinic.
Markell, currently Delaware state treasurer and slated to beome governor on Jan. 20, also spoke to the media about a new partnership between Goodwill and the Delaware Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign. Other participants at the press conference included Mary Dupont, executive director of the Nehemiah Gateway Community Development Corporation and Ted Van Name, president of Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County.
Markell touted plans to station VITA tax preparers, like Haushalter, in Goodwill store tax-preperation “super site locations” so they can reach out to people who will benefit from their services and benefit from learning about the earned income tax credit.
Widener Law students know the VITA campaign well, as the school has organized and trained hundreds of volunteers for it over the years. Haushalter said she expects about 60 of her Delaware-campus peers to volunteer during the upcoming tax season. The Harrisburg campus also has a thriving VITA program.