Everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to our communities. We create opportunities for people of all backgrounds and income levels to participate in advisory committees, volunteer at our locations, and advocate for creating communities that thrive.
When you imagine what a “superstar volunteer” would look like, Thai-Phuong T. Nguyen should come to mind. As a Rutgers University graduate with a degree in Finance and Management, Thai’s decades-long career took her from manufacturing to banking and sales; and when she retired, she immediately started putting her skills to work to help others. “I’m ‘working’ more hours now than I did when I was actually working. But I love it. To me, happiness is being able to serve others.”
Thai first started volunteering with Norwescap in 2015, as a tax preparer through our VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program, which brings nearly $5 million annually back into the pockets of low- to moderate-income families. She also volunteers as a Norwescap Medicare counselor, helping seniors to navigate the system and adjust their enrollments to save money; and she serves as a financial literacy coach with several of our partner agencies, for people living in homeless shelters, transitional housing, residential treatment programs, and shelters for battered women. In addition, Thai volunteers with the AARP’s Tax Counseling for the Elderly program; is active with the New Jersey Vietnamese American Association and the New Jersey Mutual Vietnamese Seniors Association; and for nearly 20 years, she has provided companionship and advocacy to seniors and people struggling with illness through Compassionate Care Hospice and the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman, and more recently through the Visiting Nurse Association. The list of organizations Thai has supported through her volunteerism goes on and on.
Thai has experienced her own life challenges. She first came to the United States as a refugee at age 17; she did not speak English, and she had no family in the area and no money in her pocket. So, she knows what it’s like to struggle and have limited resources, and through her volunteerism, she not only provides services – she offers empathy and understanding. “I got help when I needed it, and I just want to pay it forward,” she says. “If you can change one person’s life for the better, no matter how small, that’s a wonderful thing.”