LEWISTON — From 2004 to 2009, the Lewiston-Auburn CA$H Coalition’s efforts returned nearly $8 million in federal and state income tax refunds to the community, according to Mayor Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.

“With nearly $2 million recently claimed in federal refunds and state refund numbers expected soon, the coalition will surely surpass $10 million in refunds that its efforts have secured for local residents over the last seven years,” he said.

The coalition’s primary focus is the Earned Income Tax Credit, a federal benefit for those who work, and the coalition annually strives to provide a step towards prosperity by advocating the tax benefit to low-to-moderate income workers, providing free tax preparation sites and providing accessibility to financial education opportunities.

The Lewiston-Auburn CA$H Coalition recently held its annual volunteer recognition event, recognizing IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers, volunteer asset-building coaches, asset-building subcommittee members, Twin Cities municipal staff, the AARP program (which works in partnership with the coalition) and appointment schedulers who assisted area residents during the 2010 tax season.

This year alone the coalition served 1,314 individuals, and federal refunds claimed totaled $1,911,000 – $584,000 of which are specifically EITC benefits claimed. In addition, when having their taxes done, 437 individuals requested follow-up assistance as to topics such as money management, credit card debt, individual and family development accounts and budgeting.

City of Auburn Councilor Robert Hayes noted that this effort not only helps local families, but also the local economy.

Those recognized at the volunteer event were: KC Geiger, Chris Adler, Richaud Beaulieu, Constance Benwitz, Nancy Bisson, Cheryl Black, Paul Blanchard, Lisa Bolen, Charles “Chuck” Carter Jr., Bob Cavanagh, Nancy Cecil, Kim Chabot, Cathy Collins, Marty Corey, David Cutter, Melody Fish, Karen Fisher, Yolande Gay, Judy Gervais, Jaime Gutshall, Deanna Jackson, Charlie Kennedy, Janet Labbe, Monica Lee, Frances Lodge, Jill Lorom, Lou MacDonald, Paul Maheux, Laurie McDonnell, Andy Michaud, Richard Moore, Carole Ressler, Joyce St. Pierre, Matt Sullivan, Charlie Swett, Bryan Thomas, Susan Tymoczko, Florence Young, Hillary Verrill, Robert Wailus, Arias Wan, Walter Wells, Jackie Wiegleb and Dottie Perham-Whittier.

Perham-Whittier and Adler, co-chairs of the coalition, also accepted a Community Service Leadership Certificate of Appreciation from Tess Armstrong, IRS stakeholder relationship tax consultant. Mark Millar, division director of Casey Family Services, also praised the coalition’s consistent outreach and measurable results, which he pointed out have gained much attention throughout Maine and the nation.

KC Geiger, coalition tax site coordinator, also received praise, and Mayor Gilbert noted that Geiger’s annual contributions to the effort should be “in the dictionary under the word service.”

The City of Lewiston has taken the lead in the initiative since the fall of 2003 and works closely with numerous community partners.