When a bill to secure funding for 2-1-1 Colorado came up on the legislative floor earlier this year, Laura De La Torre, one of our 2-1-1 SNAP Navigators shared her life-changing experience with Mile High United Way’s 2-1-1 Help Center. This is her story.
My Name is Laura De La Torre and I’m a SNAP Navigator at Mile High United Way’s 2-1-1 Help Center.
14 years ago, I was a 17-year-old single mom of 2 kids, living in a Studio with a job but no extra money for utilities or Christmas gifts. I had used 2-1-1 in the past and decided to call again because I knew the help was there. When I called 2-1-1, a Navigator gave me resources to pay my utilities as well as resources to help with Christmas gifts. Because it was in December, she was not sure if the holiday resources would still be available.
I felt so hopeless and I think she heard that through the tone of my voice over the phone. She then started asking me questions about my age and my children’s age. At first, I was a little hesitant to tell her my age because as a single teen mom, I was frequently judged when people found out my age. I told her the ages of my kids, who at the time were 2 years old and 6 months old. She then told me “your children are really little; they won’t remember the gifts you give them, but they will remember that everything you have provided for them is being done with love.”
After the call, I realized the Navigator gave me something much more than resources. She gave me hope.
That message stuck with me. I provide for my children what they need with all the love in the world and they know that.
In 2018, I was in a similar place needing gifts for Christmas. It was Sunday night and I was able to look for help because 2-1-1 has resources available to the public online 24-7. I also provided some resources to my coworkers who at the time were in the same situation and it made me feel good.
While online, I saw that Mile High United Way was hiring and I took a chance by applying for the position. Now I am here serving others as a Navigator. One week into my training, I hear this navigator’s voice, that voice who gave me a message of hope 14 years ago, this voice that every time I felt out of luck or stressed because I didn’t have enough money to provide what my kids wanted and only what they needed.
Hope is what encouraged me to apply at 2-1-1 because I also wanted to do that for someone who needed it.
MaryAnn is the name of the Community Resource Navigator who helped me when I was 17 years old and after 15 years is still is there providing the help clients need. That is what 2-1-1 is all about, we are here because some of us know what it’s like to need help, and we want our clients to know that there is someone on the other end of the line who wants to help them today.
That is the power of 2-1-1, and how it changes lives.
Specializing in navigating over 7,500 community resources, such as affordable housing resources, rental and security deposit assistance, utility assistance, food resources, legal services, medical services, and so much more, 2-1-1 is one central location that connects our neighbors across the state to the resources they need most. Learn how you can support Mile High United Way’s 2-1-1 Help Center.