When I called 2-1-1 because someone told me they could help with nutrition, I never expected to get fresh food. They sent me to a food pantry where I got 3 onions, 4 potatoes, 4 bananas, orange, brown rice, black beans, 3 artichokes, raspberries, packaged lettuce for salad, carrots, purple cabbage, and chicken breast. I called 2-1-1 again right away and asked if I could go back to the pantry again and they told me I could go every week if I needed food. I would never have found about this if it weren’t for the people at 2-1-1!
Sarah and CJ's Story
Sarah and CJ's Story
Sarah, a 211 Call Specialist at United Way of Stanislaus County loves to help families who call 2-1-1 get the help they need. People who call maybe extremely stressed and often embarrassed asking for help. She starts conversations cheerfully, “Stanislaus County 211, this is Sarah, how can I help you”.
A Call for Help
Recently Sarah took a call from a mom, CJ, who was inconsolable because her family’s rental had just been foreclosed on. She, her husband and their two small children, ages 5 and 8, had 30 days to move and no money for a deposit.
Call center employees begin with questions that will help determine what services are available for the caller including: Name, address, phone number, household size, children’s gender / age, race, marital status, source of income, monthly / yearly income, etc. They also will ask a series of questions to determine other possible needs.
Based on this questioning Sarah discovered not only that CJ’s family needed help with their housing situation, but also that CJ’s kids hadn’t seen a doctor or dentist for two years because her husband lost employer sponsored coverage.
Housing: To help with the housing issue, Sarah gave CJ the number for a foreclosure assistance program started by UW Stanislaus that helps families who are losing their homes in the foreclosure crisis. The program leads families through all the options and helps them obtain counseling, loan modification, and referrals for rental housing and rental deposit assistance for those who had to leave their homes.
Healthcare: Sarah determined CJ’s family income of $55,000 was too high for the Healthy Families or MediCal programs. But, quotes for private insurance were $11,000, or one fifth of their income. Fortunately, Sarah was able to refer CJ to a program through Kaiser for children whose family income is too high for other health plans.
Food: Sarah also gave CJ the names and locations of food banks, in case she needed help in the future
In a routine follow-up call the next week, CJ had great news to share:
“Sarah, I can’t thank you enough. We are working with a housing counselor who is helping us find a house we can afford. AND we got a spot in temporary housing through the same agency. And Sarah, those food banks actually did help! Food prices are going up so fast, it helped to be able to get some stuff there. I’d never gone to a food bank before so it was a little scary at first but they were very kind and understanding.”