Crisis Center helps woman turn her life around

Posted at 5:12 PM, Apr 14, 2017

A little more than 26 percent of people in Tampa were living below the poverty level in 2015. That's higher than the state average of 21 percent. One phone call is helping those at their lowest point start a new chapter.

Dialing 211. It's an instant connection to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and a second chance. Two years ago, this was Latasha Arrington’s final call and last hope.

"Not knowing how I was going to pay the rent," said Arrington, "Lights getting turned off. It was that bad."

As a bus driver, Latasha doesn’t get paid during the summer. This single mother of two just couldn’t make the money stretch any further.

"I would go in the bathroom and just cry" she said, "Tell them I'm going for a walk and just try to release and let it all out."

On the brink of homelessness and with $50 to her name, she made the call.

"They listened. Every single word. Everything that I had to say," said Arrington.

Staff at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay call it the community’s "best kept secret."

“They are desperate," said CEO Clara Reynolds, "They are at their witt’s end and for some this is their last chance to try and find some help.”

For Arrington the call was life changing.The center put her in a budgeting class and connected her with much needed resources.

"They helped me through a tough traumatic time," she said.

The center receives around 2,000 calls per week.

"70 of those phone calls are individuals that are contemplating taking their own lives," said Reynolds.

The center helps callers get through the toughest of issues from financial distress to substance abuse, depression and sexual assault

“Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength," said Reynolds.

Darkness turned opportunity for Arrington.

“You have a roof over your head, you have lights, you have food, you have everything," she said.

Now she’s asking others who need help to dial 211.