To help accomplish this, 105 volunteer tax preparers put in 4,905 hours, which is why on April 24 we put together a food truck roundup to thank them. Bar Marco and Pittsburgh Taco Truck helped us organize the fantastic celebration, which was also a fun and yummy way to raise awareness of the work we do.
Speaking of that, statistics never tell the whole story. Here is what some of the actual people we helped this season had to say about our free tax assistance service:
|Dam Pi: “My family and I came to the Prospect Park Family Center to do taxes with Just Harvest. We were very happy to get a big refund and we are planning on buying a car with the money. Thank you Just Harvest.”|
|Ruben and Maria : “We are going to put our refund into several places. First half will go into savings and the second half will do into home repairs, including replacing a badly needed counter top, as our current one is chipping toxic paint.”|
|Shelly: “Yes, I will use it to help my son continue his education. He’s a senior at CMU. It’s hard being a single parent and every penny helps! I can’t afford to pay to have my taxes done.”|
|Lisa H from Export, PA: “I paid $292 last year to have my taxes done. I am so grateful for Just Harvest, as I only made $15,000 last year substitute teaching! The people were professional and very helpful.” Lisa not only saved $292 by coming to Just Harvest, she’s expecting a $916 refund.|
|Stacey J lives in Penn Hills and works for a medical supply company: “I am a single mother of 3 wonderful children! 🙂 This program has been a LIFESAVER! I was a client of H&R Block previously, paying a lot of money to get my taxes done. I am a HARD worker and need every penny, literally! This program helps me to receive ALL of my refund back to take care of my children. And everyone was soooo nice! It was busy, they kept a steady pace and smiled each time. They weren’t rude and were very informative. I will definitely spread the word about this program because it is a blessing! Thank you so much!” Stacy earned $27,400 last year. Her EITC and Child Tax Credits combined put nearly $7,000 in her pocket – 25% of her annual pay.|
|Arthur lives in Pitcairn and works as a cook, raising his nephew on wages of less of $12,000. His EITC and Child Tax Credit put $4,200 – more than 1/3 of his annual income – in his pocket. He says: “I’ve been here now for three years and I found this program to be one of the most helpful and fastest tax prep I know of and I’m glad to say I come here.”|
|Mario is single and in his 20’s. Between his wages working at a car dealership and a little bit of unemployment he made less than $7,000 this year. His EITC boosted his annual income by nearly $500 – like getting a 7% raise. Mario says he plans to use his refund to “pay all my debt and not waste any money on unnecessary things so I can build my future right. Just Harvest is a great program and is exceptionally helpful.”|
|(written by our translator on behalf of several families)
Dear Just Harvest Worker,
We thank you for all your hard work. We would like to thank you from the bottom of our heart for your generous caring and giving to all our family. We realize that your generosity is not just about the money. It’s about the emotional kindness and the strength you have given by believing in us. Thank you for all your amazing help. Because of your amazing help we are now able to see our future with happiness. We appreciate your thoughtfulness at this time. Thank you for the time you spent helping our family. We truly appreciate the time you took to help us out. We will never forget it.
May God Bless you All,
From, families you helped!!
|Dominic says “It’s free, so it’s convenient. The people are nice, and the wait time is very short.” He is single, currently laid-off, and earned about $13,000 last year, plus about $3,000 in unemployment. He plans to use his $1,100 refund to keep up with his bills and buy food.|
|Alex Burger, first year volunteer: “I have to admit that coming into my first season as a tax preparation volunteer at Just Harvest, I expected the clients to shy away from active engagement in the process. However, it is safe to say that my expectation was far from the truth. A tax return I completed last week illustrated just how wrong I was. Throughout the return, the taxpayer was active in the process; she desired to learn the rules and regulations that were deciding the amount of her return, so that she could better plan for next year. She was truly appreciative of my willingness to not only complete her return, but to answer all of her questions as well. Even though her return was a little less than she wanted, she was elated that she could buy her son an Easter basket with the money she saved from not spending upwards of $100 dollars on a paid service. My work as a volunteer is simply not a one-time service, but an educational opportunity that has a tangible effect on the lives of the clients.”|
|Margaret writes: “My husband passed away a few weeks ago and I had no idea what to do. My daughter went online and found you, thank God. We came here today and Emily greeted us and was so welcoming and helpful. And most of all Goldy was outstanding with us. Thank you all that worked here. See you next year.” Her husband always took care of these types of things in their household. Her daughter drove her all the way [to our CCAC-Boyce site] from Mt. Lebanon. We told her there were closer locations for next year, but she said she wanted to come back here. With pension and Social Security income, Margaret’s husband had paid estimated taxes in 2013, but Margaret owed zero taxes and will now be receiving all of those payments back in her refund.|
|Vivian is 65 and retired recently, but had under $3,000 in wages last year, besides her Social Security. She writes: “Thank God for Just Harvest people. They are wonderful. They answer all questions with smiles on their faces. They do wonderful jobs doing my taxes. They give me info that I wouldn’t otherwise know about that helps me a lot. I hope that they are around forever. Thank you so much.”|
|Thaung Shwe: “I am from Burma. I lived in a refugee camp in Thailand for 10 years. My daughter, son, and I came to America in 2010. Thank you for helping me to get my refund. I plan to save my refund so that I can buy a house. My refund will also help me pay for emergencies. Thank you, very much, Just Harvest!”|