No photo taken and names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual. 

Riya’s Story

“I was blown away when I heard about the refund. It was hard to hold back my tears.”

My name is Riya and in 2020 I received help from  United Way’s free tax program. This past February a simple bus ad changed my life. The sign was for the Human Services Center Free Tax Prep Campaign, a program coordinated and supported by United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. I hadn’t heard of the program before and decided to call. My only expectation was that I would save the cost of paying someone else to complete my return. But I got so much more. Not only were the tax services free, but I was also able to receive a refund of over $6,000— $4,700 of which came from an Earned Income Tax Credit, and another $1,400 for a Child Tax Credit. I was blown away when I heard about the refund. It was hard to hold back my tears. I had needed a car so badly and this refund was the long-awaited answer to my prayers. Having a car, and the ability to go anywhere has opened up so many opportunities for myself and my twins.

But the refund was only the beginning. My tax prep volunteer also shared additional services and support that I was eligible for, including SNAP food assistance. She connected me to a SNAP representative from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. This support just prior to the pandemic was a life-saver. I faced challenges through COVID, but thankfully, food wasn’t one of them. I can’t imagine where my family would be without it. It was just incredible and I am so grateful to the Human Services Center, United Way, and Greater Pittsburgh Community food bank.

United Way’s PA Free Tax Prep helps women like Riya take advantage of available tax credits and once connected—helps them find additional resources that can help them achieve greater financial stability. To learn more about United for Women visit

The Human Services Center Corporation (HSCC) is a Free Tax Prep tax site that also hosts organizations that help holistically service taxpayers by connecting them to other resources in the community. These outreach services include the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Adagio Health, Senator Brewster’s office (to provide property tax and rent rebate assistance), financial advisors with Hefren-Tillotson, Fund My Future, and Women for a Healthy Environment. To learn more visit