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NJ 2-1-1 is free, confidential, multilingual and always open. The stories below reflect the power that comes from having someone to turn to when you just don’t know where to turn. That’s the power of NJ 2-1-1.
“I thought I could do it all myself, but then I realized I couldn’t. And I said to myself, ‘Roberta, you haven’t done anything you need to be ashamed of. You’re just trying to raise your granddaughter and you need help." That’s how Roberta, a resident of Essex County, started on the path to finding the help she and her granddaughter needed. As Roberta explains it, “I was just on the computer looking for housing that I could afford and I saw something about calling 2-1-1 for help, so I did it.”
When she called she spoke with NJ 2-1-1 Community Resource Specialist, Anjali, who listened to her story. Anjali heard that Roberta was calling in search of housing, but also heard that she was a grandmother who was raising her grandchild all on her own. That’s when Anjali started talking with Roberta about the Kinship Navigator Program, a program created to assist people in exactly her situation. “I can’t say enough about 2-1-1,” Roberta remarked when we talked with her about sharing her story with our readers. “I tell everyone about you,” she says. “They need to know. I tell people, call 2-1-1. They will help you find emergency assistance.”
Call specialists at NJ 2-1-1 are trained to listen with compassion. They hear what people are saying and they listen for unexpressed needs. Roberta called, hoping to find out about some affordable housing. That day in late August she learned about the New Jersey Housing Resource Center, the Kinship Navigator Program, utility assistance programs and food pantries in her area that could help her if she was running low. “I was at my wit’s end that day. 2-1-1 changed all that for me.”
– Roberta, Essex County resident
I was homeless for a while, going from church to church, eating food when I could and getting clean when a shower or bath was available. I had had a stroke and couldn’t really move the left side of my body so well. One day someone at the church I was at said, ‘You should call 2-1-1. They can help you.’ So that’s what I did.
When I called 2-1-1, the person I was speaking with was so kind, so kind…when I explained that I was homeless. She said she could help me and I never would have trusted her if she hadn’t sounded so kind. But she said she was going to send someone to get me and they were going to find a place for me to stay and from that day on things started to pick up for me. The people that 2-1-1 connected me to, they found me the help I needed for rent and food and the clothes on my back. (Through tears) Thank you for being so kind to open up the doors for me during such a difficult time…for shining the light in on such a dark space in my life. Here I am, four years later, and I tell everyone…The 2-1-1 program – it works!
– Monique, Morris County resident
“Working at NJ 2-1-1 gives me the opportunity to really feel like I can make a difference in someone’s life,” explains Michael, a community resource specialist. When asked for an example, he says he has many, but he talks of a caller from Passaic County who was distraught because she was struggling with being homeless.
She had slept in her car for several days and said that she had reached out to a few organizations that she knew of, but had been told that she could not get help because her part-time salary precluded them from assisting her with emergency housing. Michael shook his head and said, “She was frightened that she was going to lose her job because she felt that she had nowhere to get a foundation to put her life together. I talked with her for a while and learned that she was a Veteran with an addiction issue. She felt that there was no one to turn to. Everyone in her life had abandoned her and she sounded like she wanted to give up.”
The longer Michael spoke with her, the calmer she sounded he said. He was able to refer her to a VA hospital where she could get her addiction issue addressed while simultaneously being housed in the domiciliary; speak with fellow Veterans who would sincerely understand her plight and would help her back on her feet; as well as be exposed to a case management team at no cost who would work with her to find the foundation that she needed to ‘put her life back together’.
BTW, my chapter of Neighbors-helping-Neighbors, a free job search support group, refers people to your site and pages all the time. Many of my members have benefited. Being unemployed affects every part of our lives. And it's a relief for them to have a "one-stop" resource like NJ 2-1-1 to find help.
You are a breath of fresh air, someone who actually cares about people in this situation. Thank you Monique…what you do is so important, thank you for being so responsive and helpful. I hope this helps him. You are a good person.
“I’ve used the NJ 2-1-1 resource database for personal reasons and at work. On a personal level, I was able to help a close friend of mine who was in need of services as she struggled to find caregiving and transportation help for a loved one who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. At work, I search the 2-1-1 database for all sorts of resources to help my clients find services that meet their needs. Every year I look for your holiday giving list because it is so comprehensive in providing local gift giving resources and holiday meal programs. I’m always searching your database for volunteer resources too. People need help and just don’t have the money to pay for it. NJ 2-1-1 is a great place to turn for community resources like this.”
– Loriann Scarpino, Community Outreach Coordinator
Ocean County Family Support Organization