Answering the Call for Help
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Contributor: Lisa Smith, United Way 2-1-1 Manager and Susan Perri, Marketing and Communications Assistant at United Way Fox Cities
Today is National 2-1-1 Day, a day to recognize the work of our United Way 2-1-1 call center. 2-1-1 is a free, confidential information and referral number anyone can call, any time of day, seven days a week.
Our local call center answers more than 12,000 calls each year from residents throughout Calumet, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Manitowoc, Marquette, Outagamie, Sheboygan, Waushara, Waupaca, and Winnebago counties.
This past October, we received a call from a woman in Sheboygan County whose apartment building was destroyed in a fire. Our call center specialist remembers, “She was staying in a hotel. She had found another apartment and could pay the first month’s rent, but needed help paying the security deposit. I gave her contact information for a foundation and said she should tell them about her situation. Within three days of calling 2-1-1, her deposit was paid. She was very happy.”
Other Sheboygan residents involved in the same apartment fire were helped by a multi-agency resource center set up by the Red Cross with assistance from 2-1-1.
How does 2-1-1 work? After a caller’s specific needs are identified, 2-1-1 specialists search a statewide database of resources and provide the caller with information about how to contact the closest and most appropriate services. Most commonly, callers ask to connect with resources that assist with food, clothing, counseling, employment, health care, housing, utilities, legal aid, and veteran/military services.
United Way 2-1-1 serves a unique role in our community. 2-1-1 answers the call for help with knowledge and expertise. It is a real-time barometer of community needs, and tracks unmet needs to assist health and human services in understanding how to best meet the requests in their communities.
Help us celebrate National 2-1-1 Day by spreading the word about 2-1-1: