Sharnice's Story

With multiple jobs, a car that won’t run, and two daughters with big plans, single mother Sharnice Brooks was stretched thin. She works as a teacher during the week and security guard on the weekends. Sharnice puts in long hours so her daughters, 11-year-old Taj and one-year-old Ryleigh, can have a better life.

“Being a mom of two can be expensive, especially when I do everything on my own, but it’s a blessing. My kids are a blessing,” said Sharnice.

Taking an Uber to work across town was draining her bank account. Sharnice deserved a break, and thanks to United Way’s free income tax preparation she got one.

Sharnice’s tax refund was 40% higher than the year before. And that’s not uncommon. With her $7,000 return, Sharnice is fixing her car and paying for ballet lessons for Taj, who dreams of becoming a professional ballerina.

United Way is doing this work because we know it helps break a cycle of debt.

When you’re living close to the edge, the most important thing you can have is that chunk of change to fix the car, pay an overdue utility bill, or gather the first and last months of rent and security deposit to find a better place to live.

That’s what free tax preparation does. We help people find credits they didn’t know existed.

There are more than a dozen free tax preparation sites in greater New Haven that help families get as much money back as possible.

United Way recruits volunteers for the program, called VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), and helps them get certified by the IRS, and then promotes the program in the community.

Sharnice is one of 4,503 people who filed their taxes through VITA last year in greater New Haven. That’s $7,007,539 returned to our region through this program.

Thanks to United Way, Sharnice is now able to invest her tax return in her family and the car that gets her to work. We know our region needs even more VITA sites, and with your support we could help even more people like Sharnice get the money they deserve.

“Being a mom of two can be expensive, especially when I do everything on my own, but it’s a blessing. My kids are a blessing.”