Alethea Wilcher finished her 40-month-sentence in prison. Upon release, she wondered where she would go.
“I was done with the past,” she says, “but in my age range – I’m 57 – there are not a lot of opportunities to start over.”
She stayed a few places—with relatives and even a neighbor—but nothing could be long term.
She Didn’t Know What to Do
Scared, she called her probation officer and asked for suggestions. She didn’t want her living situation to be a violation of her parole.
“I told her I was homeless and didn’t have a place to go,” Alethea said. She called all the numbers her probation officer gave to her. No one answered the phone numbers that she called.
Answers On the 2-1-1 Helpline
“Then I heard about 2-1-1 through the grapevine,” she says. “When I called them, they gave me 2 resources. One of them was New Beginnings of Central Florida.”
New Beginnings, a homeless outreach and poverty prevention ministry in Clermont, interviewed Alethea over the phone and then again in person.
During the first week, she doubted she would last. All the rules and getting up early and expectations placed on the residents surprised Alethea.
Receiving Help “Deep Down Inside”
Today, she’s positive she made the right choice. “The environment is so excellent!”
“I didn’t even believe I would live to 57 because of the things I’ve done in my life,” says Alethea quietly. “I have been through a lot of mental and physical abuse. I have lost a son.”
“But New Beginnings is helping me to get over the grief – not just a shelter, but helping me deep down inside.”
Thanks to the counseling and meetings and the overall program, Alethea says she is getting a new beginning.
“A door has been opened in my life,” she says. “I’m getting a new beginning.”
What is the 2-1-1 Helpline?
The free, easy-to-remember phone number, 2-1-1 connects you with health and human services in your community. Call specialists provide information on and referrals to:
- Basic Human Needs Resources: food banks, shelters, rent and utility payment assistance
- Physical and Mental Health Resources: crisis intervention services, support groups, counseling
- Employment Support: financial assistance, job training, education programs
- Support for Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities: home-delivered meals, transportation, health care
- Youth and Child Care Programs: after school programs, summer camps, mentoring, protection services
- Regional Disaster Preparation