PATERSON, NJ - The United Way of Passaic County (UWPC) last week issued a press release announcing the 2012 launch of the Financial Empowerment Zone (FEZ) at a celebration last week.

Here's the rest of the press release:
The FEZ will be providing, free tax services to Passaic County residents from February 13 through April 15 at Paterson Community Technology Center located at 218 Memorial Drive, adjacent to the Community College on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 10 am to 7 pm
and at the United Way Offices at 20 Mill Street on Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm.
The launch event was held on National EITC Awareness Day in an effort to get the word out about the most valuable tax credit that working families can receive and also to highlight where people can get help preparing their taxes for free. Unfortunately, only one in five eligible tax filers claim the EITC – which could potentially be over $6,000.  Last year over a quarter of the people who had their taxes done with FEZ in Paterson received an Earned Income Tax Credit.

Elected officials were on hand to learn about and promote the Zone’s opening along with community leaders and supporters. This year’s partners included AARP, Newark Now, Passaic County Community College, the IRS, Wells Fargo Bank, State Farm Insurance and NJ211.  “I would like to commend United Way of Passaic County for their innovation in service to increase financial stability through education empowerment for lower income working families,” stated Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter. “This initiative helps to improve the financial health of working class individuals by teaching them money saving techniques and financial freedom”.

Yvonne Zuidema, president of United Way of Passaic County ran the program.  “Last year we had 300 families use our free tax filing services. This year we hope to double that number with expanded and Saturday hours.” She urged everyone to make an appointment either online or by call the United Way office at 973 279 8900 x 205 or by calling 2-1-1.  “There are still plenty of empty time slots for people to schedule appointments” said Yvonne.  Walk-ins are available with preference given to appointments.
NJ211 is providing the benefits screening expertise for clients interested in determining if they are eligible for additional services or benefits. Also, this year for the first time, help with completing FAFSA forms with be available.
Passaic County Community College provides the space the for the FEZ, "Passaic County Community College is excited and proud to again be partnering with the United Way of Passaic County on a project that can positively impact our community. The Financial Empowerment Zone provides much needed services and information to community residents. Education is a life-long process and programs like this are essential to ensure that individuals have access to tools necessary to improve their lives" said Dr Steven Rose, President of PCCC.
Tomas Porturas, VP of Wells Fargo represented the financial community that showed enthusiastic support for this initiative. “Wells Fargo takes its social responsibility very seriously” said Tomas.  “We want to help all of our customers succeed financially and create long-term economic growth and quality of life for everyone in our communities. Partnering with and investing in the United Way of Passaic County, an organization that meets the needs of the local community, helps us achieve that goal.”