Real-life Stories

CalFresh (Nutrition Assistance Program)

As a young mom, with two kids, and a husband who is a full time student, I finally got the motivation to call 2-1-1 after a few agencies told me that we didn’t qualify for food stamps because my husband was getting financial aid for school. It didn’t seem fair to me, and I was hoping there was something out there that would help me get food on the table. Otherwise, I didn’t know what we were going to do. The lady on the phone was so calm. I felt like I could finally breathe and know that in the end, things would be okay even if they didn’t feel that way right then. She prescreened me for CalFresh (even though I only called to get food for the week), and she told me that I might be eligible. She ended up transferring me to an application specialist in another department who explained to me that income received for college purposes is often considered an "excluded resource," and because we didn’t have any other income and we met some specific rules around the matter, we did, indeed, qualify for CalFresh. Can you tell I’m smiling when saying this? Well, you can imagine how happy I was to hear that. Right then my kids ran into the room, and I started crying because I hadn’t felt safe like that in a really long time. The lady on the phone worked with me for an hour to fill out the application. Afterward, all I had to do was say my name into the phone as my signature on the application. Within 72 hours of calling 2-1-1, my family had an EBT card of $400 sitting in our mailbox. Thank you so much, 2-1-1.

-- Andrea, 32 year old mother of two

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Utility Assistance

When I lost my job, I couldn’t afford my bills anymore. A friend of mine told me to call 2-1-1 to see if I could find a way to get financial assistance. The person on the phone told me about some energy assistance programs. With just a few clicks, she'd submitted an electronic application for me to the SDG&E's CARE program to get 20% off of my monthly utility bill. She also submitted an application for me to the SDG&E Energy Assistance Program to get someone to come to my house and fix things so that I use less energy on a regular basis. THEN, she asked me if I had any food in the house. I thought, “Why is she asking this? I called about my energy bills.” I told her that I didn’t happen to have much at the moment, so she asked me a few more questions about it and said that I qualified for short-term emergency food program. Wow. I didn’t have to spend those last few dollars I had in my pocket for the month on food. I could catch the bus enough to get myself to interviews I was able to line up. I didn’t realize that I could get help with these things. Now, I have some great prospects lined up for possible work. Thank you, 2-1-1.

-- Robert, 48 year old unemployed electrician

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Earned Income Tax Credit & Tax Preparation Assistance

I called 2-1-1 looking for utility assistance in January. The phone specialist was telling me about other ways I could get some financial assistance, and he mentioned the Earned Income Tax Credit. Apparently, if you have kids you can get up to $5,600 credited back to you. I have a two-year-old and a newborn, and I had never applied for this. The specialist gave me a website to visit and complete an application. I submitted it that day and heard back around two weeks later. We got $2,000 back, and we were able to pay off some of our bills that had been outstanding and had enough left over to put into savings. I’ll be applying for that every year from here on out. I just want to give special thanks to that person that helped me out on the phone.

-- Maria, 27 year old mother of 2

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Physical Health & Nutrition

Not long ago I called 2-1-1 looking for help. I needed to find services that could offered for alcohol and drug treatment services for my son. He’s only a teen. It was hard to pick up the phone, but I knew that it was confidential and that it would lead my family to something that could change our lives. The person on the phone listened. He just listened and let me know that he was going to find me some information and services that could help my family. He calmed me down when I began to tear up and tell him that I never thought we’d be in this situation. I said, "2-1-1 is my sunshine in this storm." Thank you, 2-1-1.

-- Rebecca, 42 year old mother seeking substance abuse treatment for her son

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Military and Veteran Services

My house was going to be foreclosed on within the next few weeks. As a veteran of the first Desert Storm, I know how hard it is to find help out there. I started calling around and a community agency in Oceanside referred me to 2-1-1, saying they could help with multiple needs, not just housing. The 2-1-1 staff member walked me through some questions to understand my situation. She said that it would help her identify resources that would be of use to me. She told me about a few different housing assistance programs, and she gave me extra information about food and utility assistance to help me save a buck. She even told me about where I could go to get emergency food for the day if I needed it. After I hung up I called the housing programs and found a place to stay until I could get my feet on the ground.

-- Scott, 54 year old veteran of Desert Storm

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Senior Services

During Firestorm 2007, I was living in a trailer park in East County. I wasn’t aware of the fire so close to my home. Then, I got a phone call. It was a reverse 911 call telling me to evacuate my home. It’s not so easy to pack up everything important to you. By the time my neighbors and I were able to evacuate, the park seemed to be completely surrounded by flames, and the exit route was cut off. I didn’t know what to do, but the reverse 911 call told me to call 211 for more info, so I did. My heart was racing. I got through to a live person in moments who had access to information about the fire in my area, which calmed me down a little. The woman on the phone very quickly connected me to the Sheriff’s department which immediately sent an escort for all of us to safely evacuate our residence. Thankfully, 2-1-1 was there to save us. I don’t know what we would have done.

-- Marilynn, 72 year old East County Resident

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