United Way 2-1-1 is Here to Help
United Way 2-1-1™ is an information and referral service that helps people in need find essential resources—including food and shelter, job resources, health care, child care and other vital services. Information is accessed by phone (by dialing 2-1-1 or 651-291-0211 locally) or online at 211unitedway.org. The 2-1-1 service is free and confidential; available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year; and offered in over 100 languages.
Each day, highly trained Information & Referral Specialists field calls and online chats from people in the community who’ve turned to them for help. In a typical day the specialists might hear:
“I’m losing my housing tonight and I have two young children, is there a place we can go?”
“Can you help me find a food shelf in my area?”
“My loved one has chemical dependency issues, is there a program out there that could help?”
“I just lost my job, and I don’t know how I will pay my bills.”
The specialists attentively listen to each person, lending a caring ear to each caller’s unique situation. Along the way, they search a robust information database, trying to match each caller with a helpful program, service or agency.
In some cases the need is greater than the resources available, particularly in the area of affordable housing. The specialists often have to deliver the heartbreaking news to a family facing homelessness that an available place to stay may be a week, month, or years wait. In those moments the specialists take time to comfort each caller and explore other immediate options.
The Many Faces of Help
We recently met with some of the Information & Referral Specialists at our 2-1-1 call center, and heard more about their role and some of the things they like best about their work. Here’s what they shared: