A Lunch Break Together: July’s Chamber Luncheon

By Tiffany Cooke

Over 40 chamber members took their lunch break together for the monthly luncheon on July 25 in the Washington County Awareness building.

Catered by Shady Patch, attendees had their choice of pasta, with sides of bread, salad, and green beans. After filling up on the main course, members could grab their dessert – cookies – to eat during the presentation.

Kayla Elgin, the Office Manager of the H&R Block in the Salem location, sponsored this luncheon and presented some of the services offered and announced opportunities for employment with the company.

Elgin informed attendees that with the help of H&R Block, their taxes could not only be taken care of, but they could learn how to prepare them themselves. Elgin and her coworkers offer in-house and office training so that individuals can learn the basic tasks of a preparer and how to file tax returns.

“We are going to try and do more one-on-one this year,” Elgin said of the program.

Currently, there are 12 preparers at the Salem office that can help with tax forms. These preparers, along with Elgin, will be taking on clients interested in the training program.

The training program runs from August to December. Though the course costs $149 per person, financial help is available. After completion, enrolled students will receive a Certificate of Completion, up to 90 qualifying education hours, and 3.5 hours of credit from the University of Phoenix or 3 hours from Western Governors University.

Not only does the course turn individuals into professionals who can prepare their own taxes, it might even lead to a source of extra income.

H&R Block is searching for new preparers to add to their team so they can provide the one-on-one service they strive for. Elgin encouraged people who love calculations and conversations to consider taking a position as a tax professional and earn an extra income with the business.

H&R Block also provides full services for businesses. On average, Elgin alone files some 75 tax returns a year for Salem locals.

“I’m very flexible,” Elgin said. “I’m always at the office and I always make time to help.”

Following the presentation, attendees had the opportunity to engage with their fellow members.

Brad Gilbert, the Personnel Manager at Salem Walmart, gave an emotional thank you to a retiring employee, Sue, a trainer who helped build the Salem location.

“She’s been the driving force,” Gilbert said. Sue attended the meeting and was surprised by this public appreciation.

Other businesses shared upcoming events or offerings with their businesses, announce or request sponsorships, and share other celebrations or appreciations.

“This is how we function best,” Tara Kritzer, Chamber Executive Director said. “We all come here, and we share, getting to know one another and getting to know what’s going on.”

This, she said, is what is important in building the local businesses.

The luncheon meeting adjourned with laughter and jokes and a brief reminder that the August luncheon is already scheduled for the last Thursday of the month and will again take place at the Awareness Washington County building.

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