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Daily News

CHICOPEE — Valley Opportunity Council (VOC), which manages the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program providing free tax preparation to those of low and moderate incomes, began its 2024 tax preparations this week.

VITA in-person tax preparation appointments are available through May 15 at 35 Mt. Carmel Avenue, Chicopee; 300 High St., Holyoke; and, new this year, 20 Lathrop St., West Springfield. To schedule an appointment, call (413) 612-0206. Those eligible for the VITA program must live in Massachusetts with an income of up to $60,000. Appointments are available on weekdays, evenings, and Sundays.

Certified volunteer tax professionals help qualified individuals prepare and file basic state and federal tax returns and prior-year returns. VOC also offers free electronic filing of tax returns, allowing for individuals to receive their refunds much more quickly than with paper filings.

The core mission of VITA is to assist low- to moderate-income taxpayers in satisfying their tax responsibilities and minimize financial hardships, in turn saving taxpayers thousands of dollars in filing fees.

In 2023, VOC helped 743 individuals file their state and federal tax returns through the VITA program. VOC has been providing the VITA program for 25 years in the communities of Chicopee, Holyoke, and, more recently, Westfield.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Valley Opportunity Council (VOC) will host a ribbon cutting and open house today, April 21, at 10 a.m. to celebrate completion of phase-1 renovations of the Voces de Esperanza affordable housing community at 339 Chestnut St., Holyoke.

The $9 million rehabilitation project restores 36 units of affordable housing at the site. City and VOC officials will be in attendance to celebrate the new units.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — Valley Opportunity Council (VOC) will host a free Trunk or Treat event for families on Thursday, Oct. 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of VOC’s Chicopee location, 35 Mt. Carmel Avenue. The event is open to the community and will feature decorated trunks with treats, games, and prizes.

Families are encouraged (though not required) to wear costumes as they walk from trunk to trunk, many of them themed, to collect treats. Families who attend can also receive information about VOC programs and services.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Valley Opportunity Council (VOC) will open a new storefront to serve those needing fuel assistance for the coming winter season with a ribbon cutting slated for Monday, Oct. 24 at 11:30 a.m. at the new 555 State St. office in Springfield.

Mayor Domenic Sarno will be joined by VOC Executive Director Steve Huntley, VOC frontline staff, and members of the Springfield legislative delegation to formally cut the ribbon on the new office.

VOC is now the agency of record for providing fuel assistance for income-eligible residents of the city of Springfield. Residents will be able to apply for fuel assistance at the new 555 State St. location.

VOC has been providing fuel assistance to families in all communities in Hampden County with the exception of Springfield for many years until now.

Those interested in applying for fuel assistance can visit the State Street office or call (413) 552-1548 or email [email protected]. More information is also available online at www.valleyopp.com/springfieldfuel.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — Valley Opportunity Council (VOC) has launched a mobile welcome van with the goal of bringing the organization directly to those in the community that could benefit from VOC programs and services. The van will kick off at Key Foods, 13 Cabot St., Holyoke on Thursday, Feb. 10 from noon to 2 p.m. VOC will have some prizes and a limited supply of food bags for those who stop by the welcome van.

The welcome van will also visit Westfield on Wednesday, March 2, noon to 2 p.m., at the Westwood Building, 94 North Elm St.; and West Springfield on Wednesday, March 16, noon to 2 p.m., at the Boys and Girls Club, 615 Main St.

Residents in the communities visited by the welcome van are encouraged to stop by to learn about available resources, ask questions, and even schedule an appointment for VOC’s programs and services. VOC staff will also be able to make referrals for programs and do intakes for fuel assistance.

The mobile welcome van will continue to visit many cities and towns throughout the year and will focus on those communities that are more remote, where it may otherwise be harder for residents to connect with the organization.