Chuck Raeder, 76, says one moment in his life changed him in a profound way and ultimately led to him becoming a volunteer with the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program.
A native of Ohio, he has lived in Michigan since attending the University of Detroit and meeting Joann, who would become his wife. He used his degree in construction management to start his own construction company in 1983. His business partner was a former Marine who seemed the picture of health.
Then, while visiting a job site, his partner died suddenly of a heart attack. “My life changed dramatically after that,” says Chuck. “Up until then I was a go-getter, 80 hours a week, living in the fast lane.”
He started to take more time to be with family, and to volunteer, something he had learned from his parents as a way of giving back. “I never missed a basketball game or my daughter’s soccer games, and I volunteered as a coach and a referee…. I’ve been a lot richer ever since.”
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In 2012, Chuck sold his company and retired and happened to see an ad seeking volunteers for the Tax-Aide program. As a numbers guy, it seemed right up his alley. It’s really a full-time experience for him, as he serves as the committee chair of the National Tax Training committee, helping to train AARP Foundation’s cadre of 26,000 volunteers in tax law and tax software.
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is the largest free tax-filing assistance program in the nation, and has helped more than 75 million taxpayers file their taxes since the program began more than 60 years ago.
Chuck can’t say enough about his experience with Tax-Aide, the joy it gives him, the sense of fulfillment. He really says it best:
The social aspects are very good if you’re looking to meet new friends. I just went out to lunch with the person who trained me to celebrate her 90th birthday. And she also just celebrated her 25th year in the program….[Chuck remembers one client who had waited five hours to be helped.] I did her tax return and her state return … and all I could get for her was $4. And I thought, she’s been waiting five hours and that’s all I got for her. She started crying and said, ‘Thank you!’ and I thought how fortunate I am but how much good I’m doing….For whatever you put in, you get so much more out.
Visit the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide website to learn more about how you can get the same satisfaction Chuck feels. As he says, “As little or as much as you want to put into it, AARP Foundation has a role for you.”
Read more stories about how our programs have helped people find hope, and about the volunteers who give so much of themselves to help others.