Stories

United Way's 211 Helps Senior Citizen Rebuild Life After Incarceration

When Albert returned home after three months in jail, he had hoped to make a new start. But from the moment the senior citizen stepped foot in his front door, he found that his life had been upended in more ways than one.

His home had been broken into and burglarized. “It was a culture shock coming home after three months of staying in there, to nothing – to a house that’s been broken into,” said Albert. Everything of value was gone. Albert had no money left. While he had counted on having the support of his family when he got out of jail, his son cut off contact with him. Albert managed to get help from some old friends, but they were struggling too. “It’s tough when everybody else has their own problems,” said Albert.

Bills were piling up, unpaid. His water service was shut off. Then, in March, the COVID-19 pandemic came to Ohio. In the face of mounting hardships, Albert was losing hope. “I was about to throw my life away and throw my house away,” he said. “I was just about ready to give up, you know?”

Following a friend’s advice, Albert dialed 2-1-1. His call was answered by Alexis, a call specialist with United Way of Summit & Medina’s 2-1-1 program, which helps people find local resources when they don’t know where to turn for help. The free and confidential service is offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Alexis listened to Albert’s story. Drawing from a database of more than 100,000 programs and resources available to Summit and Medina County residents, she was able to direct him to programs that met his specific needs. And Alexis contacted the City of Akron on Albert’s behalf,getting his water service restored due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many challenges still lie ahead for Albert. It’s hard to rebuild a stable life after incarceration, especially for a senior citizen. But the support he received from United Way’s 2-1-1 program has made his work a little easier. When asked if he was still living in his house, Albert said yes. “I finally got it together."