How does one wind up volunteering to prepare taxes for 40 years? If you ask Tom this question, you’ll get a soft smile and a shrug of the shoulders that say seem to say “I’m not quite sure” followed by “has it really been that long!?”

When you’re admittedly a creature of habit, curious about taxes, and giving person, it just happens.

Tom Brix started volunteering with us in 1978, back when we were called the Minnesota Accounting Aid Society, the name before AccountAbility Minnesota, which was the name before our current Prepare + Prosper.

We estimate in his 40 years of volunteering, he’s prepared or reviewed at least 10,000 tax returns. And he’s still going.

In 1978, Tom was the boss of our founder Jim Dodge at an accounting firm called Haskins and Sells (since acquired by Deloitte). It was Haskins and Sells that supported Jim in his endeavor to start the organization–Jim remained on Haskins and Sells payroll while he dedicated his work time to starting the now Prepare + Prosper.

Tom began his work with us at our tax site at Phyllis Wheatley Community Center in North Minneapolis. Tom’s familiar with the North Minneapolis community having spent much of his childhood in the neighborhood – his father owned a meat market on West Broadway.

Things were a lot different when you volunteered with us back then.

Rather than having paid staff manage the tax sites, a volunteer would step up to lead the work at the tax sites. Tom was that guy at Phyllis Wheatley.

The volunteer managers wore many hats. You were responsible for opening the site, registering customers, reviewing and assembling tax returns, answering volunteer and customer questions, and closing up shop at the end of the shift.

And remember, back then we prepared paper tax returns–no tax software for calculations!

I never saw Tom get flustered. He was the “rock” of the site and everyone trusted Tom to meet any challenge that occurred during the shift. The same can still be said of him today–his knowledge, insight, and experience make him such an asset at the many sites he volunteers at now as a tax reviewer.

I asked Tom what kept him around for so long, four decades to be exact. His answer was three-fold.

“Prepare + Prosper provides a valuable service to lower-income taxpayers. I like the interaction with customers, staff, and other volunteers, especially when there are other volunteers who return for many years,” said Tom. “Being involved enables me to remain current with income tax changes.”

I am forever grateful to have had Tom to help with my “plunge” into tax preparation more than 20 years ago. Tom is a very special person to remain committed for so many years.

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