At 211 San Bernardino County’s Rancho Cucamonga office, Marisela Manzo’s screen constantly flashes with incoming emails and meeting reminders. Her work as 211’s Coordinated Entry System (CES) Manager, allows her and her team to ensure that people with the highest housing needs are receiving the help. Advocating for San Bernardino County’s homeless population, which has increased by 13.5% over the past year, remains a fixture of her work.
In the two-and-a-half years Marisela has worked for 211, her team has housed 533 homeless people and worked tirelessly to advocate for expanded services. By collaborating with over thirty agencies, who provide an array of services to support people as they transition out of homelessness, people have found stability in their personal and professional lives.
One of the largest populations that Marisela and her team serve are veterans. As a veteran, Marisela is able to connect with this population on a deeper level. “It is easier for me to build rapport with other veterans and encourage them to accept help. In return, I learn about the gaps that exist in services and which policies to advocate for to our Interagency Council on Homelessness.” In the past year, Marisela and her team have helped over 100 homeless veterans in San Bernardino County find their pathway to housing and start their journey towards stability.
A Life Dedicated to Helping Others
When Marisela’s contract with the Army ended in 2013, she had reached the rank of Sergeant and searched for resources to help her team when they returned home. After finding only limited services, she began working with Inland Empire Women Veteran’s Collaborative and other organizations to locate additional resources for her team. “I have always loved helping people and am very passionate about helping fellow veterans,” Marisela explains. “I began working at 211 as a Veteran Specialist and was involved in the beginning stages of a housing initiative for homeless veterans,” she stated after realizing how many veterans become homelessness after they serve our country
In her current role as Housing Coordination Supervisor Marisela has stepped into a leadership role that allows her to expand collaboration and improve policies for homeless people in San Bernardino County. While Marisela is a dynamic and visionary leader in this field, she credits her team for all of her success. “I could not accomplish anything without the assistance and support of my team,” says Marisela. “They are always there for me and ready to go the extra mile for our clients.”
How Marisela Lives United
Marisela is committed to long-term change in policy and truly shaping change in her local community. Recently, she has partnered with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Hope Team, VA Loma Linda, U.S. Vets, Lighthouse Social Services, KEYS, Veteran’s Affairs and led two outreach events to identify veterans living on the street and connect them with services. With every life that she changes, she makes a deeper change and causes a ripple effect that spreads throughout the community. Her work and that of her team has addressed the deep-rooted causes of homelessness and, through her connection with homeless people and policymakers, she is poised to make a lasting impact on the community that she serves.