Rita and VITA
As told by Colleen Joubert, Director of Communications & Development
|Rita Gandhi (right) in 2023 at ON-Radio’s Community Connections show, promoting VITA with Meg Chevalier, Senior Tax Consultant, CT-RI Stakeholder, Partnerships, Education & Communication Division of the Internal Revenue Service
Our Chief Financial Officer, Rita Gandhi, has a lot on her shoulders managing the financial integrity of an organization that spans 20 sites and over 40 programs. With my office next door to hers, I see the traffic of people who stop in to review their budgets, go over estimates, define their program needs, request her signature, and ask for her opinion. It’s a constant revolving door. But Rita is a true “people person” and that is the root of her dedication to this grueling position. You see this quality in her the more you witness her fierce, but soft-hearted guarding of the financial gates. I’ll admit, Rita is one of my favorite people at Community Care Alliance, so I may be a little biased.
I love going to events with Rita. She is the life of the party! Rita, who you may know speaks English as her second language, has no problem chatting it up. She knows so many people in all the different circles around her and makes a point of going around to see everyone she knows. She glows when she does this networking thing. She loves sharing the food of her Indian culture. Rita can strike a bargain like nobody’s business. She’s a relationship-builder, an asset in someone who is the guardian of the purse.
Our CFO is a force, not just in terms of battling to ensure financial stability, but in terms of the time she expends on accounting. I can say this with certainty…I don’t think Rita ever stops working, even on weekends or when she’s sick with the flu, she will be working from home.
Rita was hired in 2001 and has stewarded many financial contracts—including the merger of Family Resources Community Action with NRI Community Services in 2014, but also lease agreements, the acquisition of buildings, and many grant contracts. This is the 21st year that she steers the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program here in northern Rhode Island—a source of pride for Rita because she knows the program is so impactful for people who need every dollar they have.
CEO, Ben Lessing, weighs in. "Rita has been a true champion of the VITA program from the point at which CCA became involved over 20 years ago. She has seen in tangible, human terms what a few thousand dollars in tax credits can do for a family trying to make ends meet. VITA may help pay their medical bills, meet their prescription needs, buy clothes for their children, repair an automobile or keep them in an apartment and off of the street. On a number of occasions, she has gone above and beyond to help clients obtain employment. Anyone who knows Rita, also knows that this program and helping people is an expression of Rita's heart."
VITA is really a team effort by members of Rita’s Finance Department and others who provide free tax preparation from January through April, as well as property tax services all year long. To be a tax preparer requires extensive training, skills and a comfort level with asking difficult questions. VITA is funded by the United Way and the IRS. The people served by VITA this year earn less than $64,000, and come from all walks—elders, working moms, people with disabilities, veterans, young people who are new to working, etc. Last year, Community Care Alliance VITA volunteers processed 946 tax returns bringing $1,152,465 back to the local economy in the form of refunds. This year, this team is poised to do more. If you think you qualify for this free service, call 401, 235-7187 to make an appointment.
Thank you, Rita, for all you do, and particularly for keeping this program going all these years!