Mechille Burke post photo a47cbf37-b2ce-4e86-9007-8181c94fa2c8Since 1985, we had been going to the same big name tax company. My sister worked there and we didn't think much about it. We just went in every year like clockwork. That all changed in 2010.

That year, my family went to do our taxes at our usual tax company. The whole ordeal took us around an hour and half and at the end we were told they could not offer us a refund anticipation loan. We had always received the loan and this couldn't be a worse year not to get it. My 7 year old son, Jared, had been battling a very rare and deadly form of cancer and he was very sick. We were leaving in 9 days to go to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. We were relying on the loan of our income tax to help make our expenses to get there and our mortgage was due that weekend as well. Not only did this tax business tell us they couldn't give us a loan but they insisted that no other tax company would be able to offer a loan that year either.

Luckily, we passed a Liberty Tax Service® office on the way. They had an employee outside dressed like the Statue of Liberty that had smiled and waved as we passed. It now seemed like a beacon of hope and I suggested we go back and see what they could do.

I walked into the office, leaving Jared and Billy in the car to scope it out. Judy welcomed me with a big smile. I inquired about the refund anticipation loan and Judy said yes, they did have one. I anxiously asked her if she was sure. She said yes, she was sure and she asked if I was ok, she said I seemed worried. I explained our situation and Judy put her arm around me and said why don't you go get your family and let us try to help you.

As we walked in Nicole, the owner introduced herself and her mother, Judy. We were ushered to a seat and offered beverages and food. Our preparer smiled and started sorting our paperwork while Nicole and Judy took Jared to the toy area and gave him t shirts and crayons and other fun things. During our interview, Nicole explained that she would like to prepare our taxes for free this year because we had such a hard year. We weren't sure if they could really get us a tax loan or if our taxes would really be free, but they seemed nice and we figured we didn't have anything to lose. But, I have to admit I was skeptical, as was my husband. However, everything seemed to be in order and these people were some of the nicest people I had ever met. Before leaving, Judy and Nicole gave us a hug and told us they would be praying with us for a check to come soon and for the health of Jared.

We got home and our phone rang. It was Judy. She said they had a check for us. I couldn't believe it. We had just left their office. It seemed like a trick or a mistake. We got back in the car and drove back. Lo and behold, they did have a check for us! We expected to hear from them in two or three days and here it was less than an hour later. Judy and Nicole were crying with me as I clutched that check so thankful that the Lord had provided again for my family. I told them that it had been so long since anyone had shown compassion to my family, I wasn't sure how to take them on our first visit. After all, things that seem too good to be true usually aren't true. My husband is a very hard working stoic man. We don't like to ask for favors and we've always made it no matter what life has thrown at us. As he tried to express his gratitude, I was surprised when a big tear ran down his face. Judy assured us we didn't need to thank them as she put her arm around our shoulders. She said life had been unfair to our family and with tears in her eyes she told us they were honored to be able to help us. We cried and hugged and I promised we would be back and I would tell everyone to come to their office.

I was excited the next year to go visit them. I wasn't sure if they would remember us after all it had been a year since we had seen them. As soon as I walked in Judy exclaimed our names and ran over to hug us. Every year since, we walk into that office and are greeted with smiles, hugs and happiness. We always have a little reunion where we catch each other up on our lives before we start our taxes. Jared calls Judy "Mamaw" and he can't wait to see her every year. It really feels like family whenever we visit or call. I used to hate doing my taxes, but since 2010, I can't wait to spend some time with my new found family.

This year, I've had extreme health issues haunt me. It seems like Jared and I trade turns all the time with our ups and downs. When I went to visit this year, Nicole upon hearing of my illness and many hospitalizations told the preparer not to charge us this year. My husband works so hard and we've always been able to pay all our bills one way or another. I told her we wanted to pay but she insisted. She winked and told us it was the family discount and next year when we were all healthier we could pay again. We aren't the kind of family that asks for anything from anyone. We've never asked for anything at Liberty Tax®, but we've never had to. Nicole and Judy have seen our need and responded. They care about us. They genuinely care about us. You can't find that kind of care today anymore, or so I thought before walking into that Liberty tax® office.

I"ve learned that sometimes things that seem too good to be true are even better than they first appear. In Liberty Tax Service® not only have we found excellent tax preparers and customer service but we've gained a family that cares about my family beyond the numbers on a 1040 or an invoice, but in our lives. Why would I ever want to go anywhere else?