Do you know someone who needs help?

Thursday, May 17, 2018


Contributor: Todd McLean, Marketing and Communication Intern at United Way Fox Cities and recent graduate of Fox Valley Technical College

Here I am, on my last day as an intern at United Way Fox Cities, trying to put into words what I learned. All I can think about is this 2-1-1 thing. By that I mean, United Way's 2-1-1 helpline and website that connects people to health and human services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When I first showed up at United Way Fox Cities, I had no idea that this service existed. 2-1-1 wasn’t even a number in my mind. I learned 9-1-1 and 4-1-1 for emergencies and information when I was a kid. That’s it. I didn’t call anything else because, well, I didn’t need it. My family was okay. But, when I think back to all the friends I had, there were some that could have used this help. I knew a lot of families that were struggling, but what could I do?

Awareness is a huge part of the solution. I didn’t know 2-1-1 was a thing. My parents didn’t know either. When I told them, they were blown away. They have friends and family that could benefit from this service. In fact, I was talking to a friend of mine while we were playing video games, and he mentioned he was in a hard place. I told him to try 2-1-1.  “2-1-1 what’s that?” he asked. I told him, and he called.

If you are aware there is a fire alarm during a fire, you will pull it. If more people are aware of 2-1-1, like I am now, more people will get help. I have known about 2-1-1 for about three months and I have passed it along to at least 10 people – people who did not know and who took the opportunity to use the service.

When you or someone you know isn't sure where to turn, call 2-1-1; it is there to help.