Mon is a 25 year-old refugee from inter-ethnic conflict in Bhutan, in South Asia. He was originally resettled in Nepal and then came to the U.S. two years ago in search of a better future. He was permitted to bring in 25 Kg (55lbs) to the U.S., so he left many of his belongings behind.
When he and his family first arrived and were starting over, they were set up with food stamps, medicaid, and cash assistance. This was really important because the first few months they had no idea how to apply for benefits, get health insurance, apply for school/financial aid, and navigate the many complex public assistance systems.
It was important to have this support while getting jobs and enrolling in school. The Jewish Family and Children’s Service did a lot to help Mon’s family and does a lot for the community. Mon would love to see even more programs for youth focusing on issues like substance abuse prevention.
Mon heard about the Just Harvest Tax program through his younger sister, who had her taxes done with them the year before.
This year Mon not only had his taxes done, but he also is a volunteer preparer. He talks about how important the free tax program is for him and the other 10 to 12 thousand refugees in the Pittsburgh area.
A lot of people don’t know about the tax program or are afraid to use it. Some families are deterred because calling [the United Way help line] 2-1-1 can be difficult if they know very little English. It’s hard to learn about everything in the US and many refugees are afraid of people taking advantage of them and taking their money. They are careful in deciding who they can trust. Many refugees end up paying a lot of money, as much $7,500, to have their taxes done at places like H&R Block, when they would benefit so much from the Just Harvest free tax program.
Mon is passionate about trying to promote this program to his community. He thinks that if people knew about it they would definitely want to do it. This year Mon plans to put his refund into savings.
Mon just recently finished technical school, receiving a degree in HVAC, and is actively looking for a job in his field. He lives in Carrick with his parents and sister.