She could feel the tension in the air. A couple weeks camped out in her cousin’s basement had quickly turned into nearly a month for Yvonne* and her five children—much longer than she originally intended. Her cousin was losing patience and, as week four crept closer, he finally put his foot down and told her they needed to go elsewhere.
Yvonne knew her family was large. Having them all there was not easy on her cousin, so, she forced herself to calmly and kindly say, “I understand”.
Inside, however, she was panicking.
She could feel her stomach churning as five little bodies followed her out the front door. It was cold and the city was blanketed in a light snow. Holding three plastic grocery bags containing all her family’s possessions, her mind began to spin in circles.
“Where am I supposed to go?”
Yvonne and her children had been homeless for some time now. However, after couch-surfing with family and moving in and out of school districts; this was the first time they were actually on the streets. She took a deep breath, and tried to sound positive when speaking to her kids. “Is everyone ready to go on a little camping adventure?”
After walking six blocks, they came across an abandoned building to serve as their temporary home. A dusty, old brick building; the address being 211. And that’s when the thought occurred to her—could she call United Way 2-1-1?
“In the past, Yvonne had called United Way 2-1-1for food pantries and other assistance, but never for anything this drastic.”
Three hours later, after a short walk downtown, she was able to collect the few quarters needed for the pay phone and slowly, one by one, she slid each quarter into the phone’s coin slot. With five impatient children behind her—she dialed 2-1-1.
On the other end of the phone line, the 2-1-1 Navigation Specialist was pulling information provided and coordinated by the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board. It’s her job to match the most appropriate assistance with the individual caller’s current situation. This process is referred to as “coordinated entry”, where those who are homeless are given the guidance needed to find shelter, and eventually, permanent housing.
Shortly after, placing the phone on its receiver, Yvonne began her journey to the shelter the 2-1-1 Navigation Specialist had referred her to.
Simply walking into a warm building gave Yvonne such relief. Knowing that she, and her children, were finally in a safe space helped melt away just a little of the stress weighing on her shoulders.
Luckily, United Way 2-1-1 and Coordinated Entry didn’t stop there. In a few months, Yvonne and her family were eventually placed in permanent housing, giving them the stability every person longs to have.
When she had nowhere to turn—2-1-1 offered her assistance. Though she vividly remembers that cold, drafty night on the street; she now has hope for herself and her children.
This post is brought to you by the generous support of KeyBank. As one of the nation’s largest financial service company’s, KeyBank prides itself on taking a relationship-based approach, with a commitment to helping clients and communities thrive.
*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by 2-1-2 Coordinated Entry. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s personal successes and struggles.