The senior manager of a local Miami crisis hotline that serves the city’s most vulnerable residents says her organization is fielding a much higher number of calls in a video series TIME is producing with Katie Couric.
The hotline, which is funded by The Children’s Trust and a program of Jewish Community Services of South Florida, aims to serve the hungry and homeless, as well as those wrestling with mental health issues and individuals trying to escape abusive situations.
“We’ve answered over 6,000 calls in the last month, which is double what we usually answer,” says Cora Paterson, senior manager of 211 Miami, which connects people with local resources like food programs, support for mental illness and shelter options, via text, chat and phone. The number of calls is so high that all the staff is working extra hours, Paterson adds. Most calls are from people struggling to get enough food, even after visiting food distribution sites, she says.
“The need is so great and it’s just an overwhelming amount of people reaching out,” Paterson tells Couric. “People tell me ‘Oh, I went to the food distribution and I still didn’t get enough food because they ran out.'”
She says 211 Miami hears from individuals being told by landlords they will be thrown out if they don’t pay rent despite evictions being suspended, homebound disabled seniors who aren’t getting their groceries replenished and suicidal teenagers who may be stuck at home with someone who is worsening their mental health.
Amid all the chaos, Paterson acknowledges to Couric that she is exhausted but notes that taking care of herself is a “top priority.” She’s grateful for her job, too, adding, “The best part of being able to help people is to know you’re making a difference.”
See the full interview in the video above.
This interview is part of a special series produced in collaboration with Katie Couric. Read more from TIME Reports with Katie Couric, and sign up for her weekday morning newsletter Wake-Up Call with Katie Couric.