Lake Life

     
Clubs
& Such

Boy Scout Troop #398 meets at the Cedar Creek Bible Church from 7-8:30 p.m. each Tuesday. For more information, call (903) 498-5725 or (903) 498-3830.
Cedar Creek Art Society meets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the last Thursday of each month at the Mabank Volunteer Fire Department. A $3 donation per artist is asked.
Cedar Creek Domino Club meets each week on Wednesday at the Mabank Volunteer Fire Department. For more info, call (903) 887-6549.
Cedar Creek NAR-ANON meets at 8 p.m. on Thursday at 715 S. Hwy. 274, Ste. D in Seven Points. (903) 432-2405.
Cedar Creek Narcotics Anonymous meets at 8 p.m., Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, at 715 S. Hwy. 274, Ste. D in Seven Points. (903) 432-2405. There is a 2 p.m. Sunday meeting, also.
Cedar Creek 49ers Club meets every Thursday for fellowship and dancing. Doors open at 6 p.m. The club is located off Arnold Hill Road in Seven Points. Call for more information, (903) 432-3552.
Cedar Creek Lake Kiwanis Club meets at noon each Wednesday at The Jalapeno Tree in Gun Barrel City, except the second week of the month, when the club meets Thursday in conjunction with the area chamber of commerce luncheon.
Cedar Creek Optimist Club meets every Tuesday at noon at the Dairy Queen in Seven Points. For more information please call Danny Hampel at (903) 778-4508.
Cedar Creek Republican Club meets every fourth Thursday. For more information call (903) 887-4867.
Cedar Creek Rotary Club meets at noon each Friday at Vetoni’s Italian Restaurant. For more information, call Dee Ann Owens at (903) 340-2415.
Cub Scout Pack #333 meets at the First United Methodist Church of Mabank the second and fourth Monday at 7 p.m. For information, call Mary Harris at (903) 451-5280 or Tonya Capley at (903) 498-4725.
Girl Scout Troop #112 meets at the First United Methodist Church in Mabank on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. For more info, call GeriLeigh Stotts at (469) 323-7943, email glbstotts@hotmail.com,  or (800) 422-2260 or visit www.gsnetx.org.
Disabled American Veterans Chapter 101 meets the second Monday of each month at the Senior Citizens Center on Hwy. 31 in Athens.
Girl Scout Troop 2667 meets every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Aley United Methodist Church. For more information, please call Suzann Smith at (903) 887-3889.
Gun Barrel Quilter’s Guild meets from 10 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the Tri-County Library in Mabank. For more information, please call (903) 451-4221.
Henderson County Retired School Personnel meets at 2 p.m. the second Wednesday each month at the First United Methodist Church of Athens. Call (903) 451-3585 for info.
Kaufman County Republican Women’s Club meets the third Saturday of each month at the Farm Bureau Insurance Company, located at 2477 N. Hwy. 34 in Kaufman. For more info, call (972) 287-1239 or (903) 880-6770.
Kemp Kiwanis Club meets at noon each Thursday at La Fuente Mexican Restaurant in Kemp. For more information, please call Dr. Jim Collinsworth at (903) 887-7486.
Lake Area Council of the Blind meets at 6 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month at West Athens Baptist Church.
Lake Area Democrats Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at the Library at Cedar Creek Lake in Seven Points. Email bhanstrom@embarqmail.com  for more information.
Mabank Al-Anon Family Group meets at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays at Mabank First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. Families of alcoholics are welcome. Call (903) 887-2781 for info.
Mabank/Cedar Creek Area Lions Club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Tri-County Library in Mabank. Call (903) 887-5252 for info.
Mabank Garden Club meets at 2:45 p.m. at the Tri-County Library on the third Tuesday of every month (different times in May and December).
Oak Harbor/Tanglewood Crime Watch meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at the R.T. Beamguard Community Center in Oak Harbor.
Rainbow Girls, Masonic Youth organization meets on the second and fourth Saturdays at 10 a.m. at the Cedar Creek Masonic Lodge. For more information contact Donna Dean at ddean45@hotmail.com.
Roddy Masonic Lodge meets at 6:30 p.m. the second Monday each month. Call (903) 887-6201 for info.
RootSeekers meet at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of the month in the Tri-County Library in downtown Mabank. The public is welcome to attend.
Southeast Kaufman County Senior Citizens Center Board of Directors meets at 1 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at the center, located at 300 N. Dallas Street in Kemp. For info, call (903) 498-2140.
Suicide Survivors Group for those grieving the loss of someone by suicide, meets every Monday at 6:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Mabank.
Tamarack Ladies Club meets at 11 a.m. the first Wednesday of each month at the TLC Hall.
TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) meet at 6 p.m. each Monday at the First Baptist Church of Mabank. Contact Gaye Ward at (903) 887-5913 for more info.
TVCC Singles meet at 7 p.m. each Monday in the Nutrition Center at TVCC, located off Park Street near the Athens Country Club. This is a support group for singles of all ages and is supported by TVCC. For more info, call Hilda Anding at (903) 675-7270.
   

 

First in a series on volunteerism
Volunteering during a taxing time
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

SEVEN POINTS–Gil Betts started his volunteer activities nearly 25 years ago, soon after he retired from his government job as an accountant and relocated to Cedar Creek Lake.
So what does a retired accountant do as a volunteer?
More accounting, of course!
And lots of local senior citizens are glad he does.
“I bring my tax return to him every year,” Claudette Alsup told The Monitor. “He knows all the changes to the tax law and makes sure I get every penny I have coming to me.”
During tax season (Feb. 1 to April 15), Betts and his team of half a dozen or so counselors serve as tax aides at three local libraries.
“The service is free. I’d like to see more people take advantage of it,” Betts said. “I get great satisfaction from making sure people’s returns are done right, and did I mention that it’s free?”
Supported by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Foundation, a charitable organization, the tax help program works in conjunction with the IRS, which has also funded the program for the last 20 years – your tax dollars at work, Betts said.
“It’s the largest income tax filing service in the United States,” he added.
Betts started as a counselor (an entry-level position) in 1994.
After a time, the local coordinator, who oversees a district with three sites resigned, and Betts stepped up. Then he became an instructor. When the first electronic filing program came out, he became the technology coordinator, too.
Every year, instructors attend special training sessions and must pass an open-book test. Then they can teach counselors, who must also attend a three-day training and pass an open-book test every year, Betts explained.
For those counselors who are just joining, some extra instruction may be needed, but generally the three days are enough.
Counselors are those who can volunteer at least 20 hours a tax season, are familiar with using a computer, can work with numbers or learn how, and have some good people skills.
“You can’t get the answer you’re looking for unless you’re asking the right question,” Betts said, noting that is stressed during the annual training.
Counselors also take a confidentiality pledge, he added. Every return is double-checked by a different person to make sure they are done right.
All in all, Betts has four leadership roles in the organization. The last is that of District Coordinator.
This district is made up of two chapters, on in the Cedar Creek Lake area and another taking in Ennis and Waxahachie, for a total of five service sites people can go to and get the free help with filing their taxes.
Of course, there are limitations to what the counselors will accept. No complicated tax returns, and none requiring a Schedule C.
Self-employed people who have a simple business and would fall under Schedule CE, counselors can handle, Betts said.
“We will do itemized deductions on a Schedule A,” he added.
The service is not liable to represent the filer before the IRS, as a paid tax return preparer would, he pointed out.
“We see screwups from paid preparers all the time,” Betts said.
Catching those mistakes and correcting them also gives Betts a lot of satisfaction. Each return is also reviewed by a dedicated reviewer to catch any mistakes a counselor might make, he said.
The free service also includes a review of last year’s return and this year’s figures. “Counselors advise the taxpayer on how much withholding to carry, what things they should track for their records next year, and so on,” Betts said.
The service does not give anticipation loans for expected refunds, which Betts clearly thinks is a waste of good money.
“First, they overcharge to prepare your return and then they charge exorbitant interest to loan you the money,” he said.
Counselors are not allowed to accept compensation for their services, though Betts said he’s been know to accept a freshly baked batch of cookies.
“On the whole, people we get here are very appreciative (of the service) and return year after year,” Betts said.
“The program is designed primarily for seniors, but we’re getting many younger people, too,” he added. “Professional tax preparers often refer clients to us, when they can’t afford their services.”
During the tax season, Betts puts in 20 to 25 hours a week as a tax aide. By far the Library at Seven Points gets the most people seeking the service.
“We do about 200 returns a year at The Library at Cedar Creek Lake and half that much at Malakoff and Athens,” he said.
Any client wanting to donate a few bucks – because they’re so grateful for the service – is directed to the library.
“They always need and accept monetary donations,” Betts said. He should know.
In addition to his tax season volunteering, he has been a longtime member of the Best Friends of The Library, serving as treasurer, president and currently as a member of the library’s board of directors. He feels the tax service is another benefit the library offers the community.
“My wife and I are very involved with the library. We contribute our time and money because we want to see the library stay open,” he said. “It’s a fine asset to our community and we are extremely lucky to have it.”
When it comes to choosing an area in which to volunteer one’s time, Betts said it’s important to follow your heart.
“When in doubt, do it. And if you do it, do it well and whole-heartedly,” he advised. “There’s something everyone can contribute somewhere.”
 


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