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McCausland’s team serves many who fall into those categories.
The communities of her nine-county region are tight-knit. Much of it is rural farmland or tourist draws among the lakes and astounding views, the population split nearly evenly between white residents and Latino residents, many of whom speak Spanish as a first language.
The staff has Spanish, Hmong, Mandarin and American Sign Language interpreters on call.
But their success in the northern counties is admittedly mixed for reasons McClausland says are largely out of their control, such as long routes to remote areas where residents might not have the money for gas or a ride, or fears among undocumented farm workers of contact with the federal government.
Trust from the local community can be hard to come by. McCausland said the local resource centers have the connections to their local communities but scant money to help them; the United Way has laptops and hotspots and expertise, but transportation in and out of rural Tulelake can be tough for low-income residents to find.
And the United Way’s tax assistance is relatively new to the region: The organization has been operating the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for just four years in Tulelake. Before they arrived, McCausland said locals lost faith with the local community center’s ability to handle their taxes.