February 11th is National 2-1-1 Day!

February 10, 2015
Author: Jerilyn Stowe

Salt Lake City — February 11 is National 2-1-1 Day, in recognition of the free, user-friendly phone number that serves 90 percent of America's population, and connects some 16 million people a year to critical resources, information, and services.

In Utah, more than 95,000 calls were made to United Way 2-1-1 last year and nearly 160,000 referrals were given to those callers. The majority of the referrals were for individuals seeking housing and income supports, utility assistance, emergency help, or the closest food bank. Callers dial 2-1-1 for information about everything from where to take children for developmental screenings or how to locate job training, to finding free tax filing support. In addition, callers dial 2-1-1 to get connected to meaningful volunteer opportunities.

“Without 2-1-1, callers can make an average of eight phone calls to different numbers before finding the services they need,” said Chiara Cameron, United Way 2-1-1 Director. “2-1-1 empowers thousands individuals and families in Utah, and puts them on the road to self-sufficiency, by easily providing critical information and knowledge about the immediate health and human service options available to them.”

When an individual dials 2-1-1, the call is answered by a trained information and referral specialist. Specialists discern need and search a comprehensive database of nearly 9,000 relevant human service referrals. Specialists then explain how to access those services. In the case of a worker who has recently been laid off or whose hours have been reduced, the 2-1-1 specialist may share information about unemployment benefits, job search options, food pantries, mortgage or rent help, utility assistance, counseling, and other available resources above and beyond the caller’s original need. Calls are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Individuals seeking assistance can also chat live with an information specialist and search the online database at 211ut.org.

United Way of Salt Lake continues to strengthen and support 2-1-1 as a way to build stronger communities and create opportunities for all. In 2013, legislation was passed creating a public-private partnership allowing for a single strong state 2-1-1 system, and over the past couple years, United Way of Salt Lake, United Way of Utah County and United Way of Northern Utah have worked together to reduce duplication and save money. United Way 2-1-1 and its partners are seeking ongoing funding this legislative session to help ensure this free, statewide service can continue to provide quality, up-to-date information to Utahns in need and those seeking opportunities to volunteer.

For more information about United Way 2-1-1, please visit uw.org or 211ut.org.

Read more: KCSG Television - February 11th is National 2 1 1 Day