Kim Smith’s first day working as a Paralegal in the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) was an abnormally emotional one. During an intake on that day, she and Dee Dee Gowan, the Director of the LITC, met with a man who was in a difficult situation—and whom the Clinic was unable to assist. “He was going to serve jail time and there was nothing we could do. After he left our office, I just sat down and sobbed,” says Kim, wondering briefly at the time if she could handle the job. But Dee Dee assured her that such cases were rare.
Despite the rough introduction, Kim soon found that more often than not, she and the LITC are able to offer clients hope and assistance through their troubles. Clients come in with enormous tax controversies and they are confused about how to go about resolving such financial burdens, but after an initial meeting with Dee Dee, Kim says the relief is palpable. “The difference in them when they get here to when they leave is incredible. They know that we’re going to take care of them.” For her role, Kim assists both Dee Dee and Jim Floyd, an Enrolled Agent in the LITC, with all of the leg work for their cases. “Pretty much all communication to the clients goes through me,” she says.
Kim and Dee Dee were friends for years before Kim took a position at the Clinic because their daughters were in dance class together. She had never even considered a job in the Tax world, spending much of her career working at a bank two days a week. “I never thought I would leave the bank,” Kim says. “I’m a creature of habit. I don’t like change, ever.” But after nearly 21 years in the banking field, her longtime employer began to make changes that no longer worked for Kim. The bank started shifting all part-time employees to full-time positions. For Kim, the mother of three children who required lots of time, attention, and transportation, this was a conundrum.
But then, during a dance competition weekend for their daughters, Kim shared with Dee Dee that she was looking for a new job. It just so happened that a Paralegal position in the LITC had opened up. “She told me it was flexible and that it could help me with my Mommy Hours. I could work early and leave early and still be able to drive my kids,” Kim says. A few weeks later, she came in for an interview and was offered the job. “It was totally a God thing—the timing of it was perfect,” she says.
Although she did not initially seek out a position that corresponded with her Christian faith, Kim finds that part of her work to be especially meaningful. At the end of each intake, Dee Dee asks clients if they would like prayer, and they almost always say yes. “I’ve been here for over four years and I can think of maybe only two people that have said they don’t want prayer,” says Kim. “And when Dee Dee prays for them, that’s when they let it all go. They almost always walk out feeling better.”
Now that Kim has found her home on the LITC team, she has no plans to leave. “I just think you couldn’t have a more fulfilling job,” she says, “There might be other places where I could help people with taxes, but not like this.”
To learn more about the LITC, please visit our website.