Hester was homeless, hungry, struggling to find full-time work, and desperately needed someone to help her get back on her feet. She thought that she had nobody to turn to, until she heard about 2-1-1. Little did she know, calling 2-1-1 would turn out to be a decision that would have a tremendous and positive impact on her life.
Hester dialed 2-1-1 and was greeted by Esteban, a United Way Community Resource Adviser, who quickly understood the gravity of her situation and worked to meet her crucial needs by providing her with resources from emergency housing to food pantries to transitional housing assistance. He made her feel less alone, and provided a sense of comfort during a time of need.
2-1-1 is San Bernardino County’s referral and information helpline and website that connects people to essential health and human services. The service is free, accessible 24/7, completely confidential, and available in more than 180 languages. Last year, 2-1-1 agents connecting over 150,000 residents to emergency financial assistance, housing, employment, health care, education, disaster relief services, legal aid, and more.
Esteban realized that Hester would be eligible for CalFresh, a program that puts nutritious food on the table for struggling individuals and families. Over the next 30 minutes, Esteban walked Hester through the CalFresh application, while making sure that he did everything he could to get her back on her feet. Esteban reassured her that she was not alone, and would always have 2-1-1 to call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
A week later, Hester remained in Esteban’s thoughts, so he followed up with her to see if she had success with the resources that he provided. Hester was elated to receive Esteban’s call. Happily, Hester reported that she had received food benefits the very next day, and she shared just how happy she was that she had made that original call to 2-1-1. Hester was also able to find a full-time job and was finally moving in a positive direction.
“When I called you, I was living in my car, I had very little gas, I was starving, the sun was hot, and you just walked me through it. I was able to get food and I was able to get water,” Hester said. “You don’t know how much you mean to me and the community. I hope this type of service never goes away.”
This call not only touched Esteban’s heart and validated the reason why he loves his job so much, but it would also be remembered as a turning point in Hester’s life–one that would set her on a path toward hope and stability.