Serving Monroe, Owen, and Greene Counties

Volunteers Extend Tax Help Across Community

As graduate students at IU, Alicia Wen, Serena Zhong, and Yanqi Chen are not just attending classes. By volunteering their time to file taxes for free, they are using their skills and education to make a big impact on the community. 
Alicia, Serena, and Yanqi are volunteering as mobile site coordinators through United Way for the Free Community Tax Service. In this role, they meet with clients and help them file their taxes, ensuring that these low-to-moderate-income tax payers don’t overlook credits that can give them larger refunds.
“It is really meaningful to me to see people get so happy to learn about their tax returns,” Alicia said. “An extra $3,000 can change their lives.”
Throughout tax season, the Free Community Tax Service is available at nine sites in Monroe and Owen counties for residents who made less than $54,000 last year. The mobile sites, however, can better serve people who may have limited access to tax help. By taking this free tax service into the community, it serves people with disabilities, transportation difficulties, or language challenges in a setting they know and trust. Mobile site volunteers also set up tax preparation services at local agencies that request this service for their clients.
Mobile site locations include Bloomington Housing Authority, LIFEDesigns, New Leaf-New Life, Positive Link, El Centro Comunal, St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Kroger, and Stone Belt Arc. Leveraging these strong partnerships increases our ability to achieve results for the community. 
The mobile site coordinators became involved in the program through ASCEND at IU, a professional organization that helps leverage the leadership and global business potential of Pan-Asian students. They each volunteer over 10 hours every week at the mobile sites throughout tax season, and have already helped over 40 people this year. 
“These three women are dedicated, intelligent, and wonderful site coordinators,” said Jamie Kuzemka, United Way Community Initiatives Director. “They manage their sites on the weekends and continue to volunteer hours throughout the week to other tax responsibilities. They always go above our expectations.” 
All three have been volunteering with the Mobile Site program for two years. And during the rest of the year outside of tax season, you’ll find them hosting information sessions on campus through ASCEND to encourage other students to be involved. 
“The Bloomington community really needs these volunteers,” Alicia said. “But it is good for the volunteers too. They can use the knowledge they have gained through classes in the real world, and learn to handle all of the different situations that people face.” 
Meeting new people and hearing their stories makes volunteering exciting for Alicia. Some of her favorite moments are seeing the difference she is making when they realize how much money they can keep from their return. 
“If I didn’t do this, I would just be wasting valuable time,” Alicia said. “Why not spend it in a valuable way?”
Do you want to strengthen earnings in our community?

Please consider donating to the United Way Earnings Priority Fund. This fund helps hard working individuals and families get ahead by increasing their job skills and income potential, providing financial education, and building economic stability and independence.

Want to learn more about additional Earnings initiatives or the other building blocks for a good life -  Education and Essentials?

  • Born Learning
  • Financial Stability Alliance
  • Monroe Smart Start
  • Familywize Discount Prescription Card
  • Bank On Bloomington