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FamilySource Center Volunteer Uses Tax Program to Reach His NFL Dreams and the Super Bowl

Posted on 05/05/2024
Daniel Meza 2

There are days when Daniel Meza can barely believe what he’s experiencing. Like the first time he crossed paths with Las Vegas Raiders players and had to pretend not to be starstruck. Or this past February, when he sat in a star-studded Allegiant Stadium and watched Super Bowl LVIII. 

Once a kid with a passion for sports and data, Daniel, 24, is now living out his dreams as the Staff Accountant for the Las Vegas Raiders. It’s a path that truly began at his local FamilySource Center, El Centro Del Pueblo in Echo Park, where he and his family were members and received resources, and ultimately, inspiration. 

Daniel’s mother, Sabrina Ortega, is a program manager at El Centro Del Pueblo and around 2018 she told her son about its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA supports free tax preparation services for the underserved, and Sabrina knew it was the perfect opportunity for Daniel to pursue a new career path. 

“I was a pre-nursing major at Mount Saint Mary’s University at the time and I didn’t want to be there,” Daniel said. “The opportunity came at the right time.”

Daniel began attending East Los Angeles College and studying business administration, but it was at El Centro Del Pueblo where as a second-generation tax preparer he received hands-on training as a volunteer of the VITA program, helping community members with tax statements.

“At first, I didn’t know how to read tax forms, but the staff was really patient with me,” Daniel said. “I kept coming back and learning more and eventually they started to give me more forms other than W2s. It was exciting to grow and learn.”

It was also rewarding. Daniel landed a junior staff accountant role with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2019. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in accounting from California State University, Long Beach, in 2021, the same year he got the opportunity to work with the Raiders.

The City’s Community Investment for Families Department (CIFD) operates 19 FamilySource Centers that, in addition to free tax prep services, connect families to a vast network of social, educational, work, and family support services. 

This past tax season, CIFD’s Free Tax Prep L.A. program was able to help Angelenos claim millions in refunds and tax credits.

The program also empowers families to uplift the communities they belong to. Daniel now helps teach young people tax education and financial empowerment through Raiders Familia, an Employee Resource Group that he started.

“I try to give back to the youth as much as I can,” Daniel said. “I didn’t always have the resources, and I know what that is like. But I want them to know they can make it and reach their goals.”

“Daniel is a shining example of what is possible when we invest in communities and provide Angelenos with the tools to improve their lives,” said CIFD General Manager Abigail R. Marquez. “We are so proud of Daniel. His success is inspiring to our entire FamilySource Center community as we continue advocating for families in need.”