“No matter where you are, if you need help, you can call 2-1-1.”
Recently a young woman walked into Mile High United Way because she needed help. More than anything she needed a place where she felt safe. This young woman traveled to Colorado from another state with people she met. When she got to Colorado everything changed.
She was separated from the people she traveled with. This young woman has also been living with a mental health diagnosis. When she walked into Mile High United Way, the 2-1-1 Help Center found out that she’d been on the street for more than a week without anything to eat. They gave her food, water, and started to build trust with her. They asked her how she found out about Mile High United Way.
She told the 2-1-1 staff members working with her that a homeless man had helped her.
He told her to go to Mile High United Way because “they can help you.” The 2-1-1 staff members who assisted this young woman that day learned that it wasn’t going to be an easy journey to get her home, but 2-1-1 was going to do everything in its power to make that happen. Mile High United Way was able to get in touch with this young woman’s mother who was relieved her daughter was safe and she could now begin the process of getting her back home.
It was determined that a bus ride wouldn’t be in this young woman’s best interests as it would take a long time and, with a mental health diagnosis, she may become confused by all of the different bus stops. At the same time, her mother was seeking financial assistance from friends and family to no avail to pay to get her daughter home.
The 2-1-1 staff members assisting in this case let the young woman know “you’re not in trouble, we’re all in the same boat working to get you home. We need you to work with us and accept our help. It may not be what you want, but it may be what you need.” And she said, “Okay.”
There were resources and referrals that 2-1-1 gave to this young woman, but they also knew that without a valid ID and no way to prove residency – since she had been in Colorado less than 30 days – there were going to be barriers to her receiving the help she needed in a place that wasn’t home for her.
What she needed more than anything was to find a way home, and Mile High United Way knew that.
Mile High United Way exists to help those in need in the Metro Denver community. There are so many people facing barriers to access when it comes to getting their basic needs met. Mile High United Way works to bring the community together to not only remove these barriers, but to give its clients what they need. In this case, it was to get this young woman home safely.
In order to make that happen the 2-1-1 staff members brought the case to their supervisor who, understanding the urgency of the case, spoke with Mile High United Way’s President and CEO and Chief Innovation Officer. “This young woman has been through a traumatic experience, and we’re looking to reunite her with her mother, and get her home safely as soon as possible.”
Christine Benero, President and CEO of Mile High United Way, along with the entire 2-1-1 team worked to make sure funds were available to purchase an airline ticket for this young woman.
“The work we all did that day was amazing. At one point, we might’ve done something to help that man who referred her here, or maybe he saw the work we were doing. All we know is that a community came together that day to wrap this young woman in support. Our goal was to get her home safely. We couldn’t leave that question unanswered. Most days you don’t know the impact of what you do until you see it happen before your eyes. That day we saw it. As we all exhaled together, we knew we did it.”