For Jesus, it was his sister who INSPIRED him to join the Roots & Shoots group she had been part of. “At first I was a little hesitant,” he says. “I was going into high school, and I didn’t know what I liked, interests, any of that.” But then, he says, “I just did it.”
In Jesus’s community of Santa Barbara, California, there’s a large gap between the very wealthy and those struggling to make ends meet. His Roots & Shoots group OBSERVED a significant need for financial assistance and partnered with the United Way to become a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) chapter. Jesus jumped into ACTION, taking courses during lunch to become certified by the Internal Revenue Service. After school, he and his group took walk-in appointments and prepared tax returns for low-income families and individuals.
At first, both the students and the clients were a bit unsure about the arrangement. Clients, says Jesus, “would kind of look at us like, ‘You’re a high school student, and you’re doing my taxes?’” But Jesus had worked hard in the tax courses, and he grew confident in his abilities. He remembers thinking, “Yes. But I can do them. And I’m good at them.”