Better than several other non-profit organizations that I have initially contacted. Housing specialists at the Bienestar are knowledgable, passionate, compassionate, punctual and detailed. The best one was Nikki, who unfortunately left a few months ago.
I have been living with HIV for the past 15 years without much of impact on my life. That has changed last year when I started experiencing some health issues that prevented me from obtaining an employment. After exhausting my savings I didn’t know how can I survive on checks that I have been receiving from EDD. A friend mentioned to me services that assist people with HIV with their rent and utility payments, provide legal help if needed, service animals, etc. I was suggested to contact APLA, which I did. Unfortunately, none of my calls were returned for several months. When they finally assigned me a case worker, who helped me to receive rental assistance for one month, which I greatly appreciate. After that, he was constantly late for hours at the time. He has also failed to provide clear responses to my Emails regarding the status of my case until I almost lost my apartment.
Desperate I started to look for other organizations providing rental assistance to people with HIV. I came across of Bienestar Human Services. Even though I assumed that they most likely provide services to Spanish-speakers only, I made a phone call. A sweet voice that answered the phone was the voice of the Housing Specialist/Case Manager at Bienestar - Nicki. She made me so welcome. She listened. She was so compassionate. My appointment was set the very next working day.
On the day of my appointment, I felt extreme fatigue, which made me very abrupt and groggy. After Nicki’s warm greet we sat down at her desk. I provided her a thick folder full of the required paperwork. My income was a combination of EDD checks and small checks from various companies, which made it hard, to sum up to me and even harder for someone else. Nicki helped me to clarify all the amounts as she understood that I don’t have time to be going back and forth with CCA who process applications. She exhibits her dedication to get my case approved in the shortest time possible. My grogginess didn’t affect her willingness to help me. Any question that I have asked she provided an answer for. She made me believe that good, honest and compassionate people with integrity still exist. I opened up and explained to her all the nuances of my current situation and shared my plans for the future when my health issues are resolved. She has listened and presented me with HOPWA options and other services provided by Bienestar that I could benefit from and qualify for. After a few days of deliberation, I decided to proceed with applying for one other program. On Monday before Thanksgiving, I have called Nicki. I thought that because of the holiday my appointment would be the following week. At my surprise, she offered to meet with me at 5:30 pm on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. She was prepared for my appointment, so we finished the paperwork by 7 pm. At that point, she said that she may not be able to submit it before after the holiday, which further confirmed her selfless nature.
I feel blessed that I came across of Bienestar and to be assigned with a case manager like Nicki. She is very organized, pays attention to every detail, which increased the possibility of my case to be processed quickly and efficiently. Nicki provided regular updates on my case. Although I am often a control freak, I feel comfortable with Nicki’s decisions and open to her suggestions. Living in Los Angeles without a family around, my biggest fear has always been to get seriously ill, stop making money and exhausting savings. In those moments, even though feeling uncomfortable to ask for help, my friends have been always there for me. By adding Nicki and Bienestar’s services to the circle of my friends I fear less about ending up homeless as a result of health issues and not being able to work.
An anonymous person once said: “Use your voice for kindness, your ears for compassion, your hands for charity, your mind for truth, and your heart for love.” Nicki uses all that in her work at Bienestar Human Services. Thank you, Nicki.