February 10, 2021 - While 911 is the number to call for an emergency, there’s another number you should know. Dialing 2-1-1 connects callers to critical services, such as food, housing, childcare, utility assistance, healthcare, employment services, counseling, and more. 211 is a free, confidential service provided by United Way of the Coastal Empire to ensure every person in the community has access to the best resources available.
“211 makes a big difference in the lives of thousands every year. Through United Way 211, individuals and families can call and talk to a real person for information about or connection to the most appropriate resources,” said Brynn Grant, President and CEO of United Way of the Coastal Empire. “No matter the situation, information and referral specialists at 211 listen, identify, and help with a plan to get callers back on track. It is the place to start when you don’t know where to begin.”
Nationally in 2018, 211 call centers across the United States made more than 12.8 million connections to help people. As of 2019, 211 is available to 94.6 percent of the U.S. population.
Locally, United Way of the Coastal Empire’s 211 has answered nearly 350,000 calls since its inception in 2001. United Way 211 plays a vital role in times of personal hardship, natural disaster, and even the pandemic. With the first spread of COVID-19, the 211 call center received four times the number of calls than normal—averaging 1,900 calls per week. By the end of 2020, the 211 call center and United Way service centers in Bryan, Effingham, and Liberty received 35,000 calls and helped more than 6,000 residents with resources to get them through challenges related to the pandemic.
Today, the 211 call center is busy answering calls to help distribute the City of Savannah CARES Act Funds and the Chatham County Emergency Rental Assistance Program to assist residents in maintaining safe, stable housing.
Grant added, “The scope of resources available through 211 is incredibly broad and designed to strengthen our entire region – Bryan, Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty counties. It’s designed to assist families from all walks of life, but, most importantly, benefits our most vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and low-income by facilitating access to vital programs and services.”
Types of referrals offered by 211:
- Basic Human Needs Resources – including food and clothing, shelters, housing, utility assistance.
- Disaster Response and Recovery – works with the emergency management team during a disaster to offer support and a place for the dissemination of information.
- Mental Health and Health Resources – including counseling, support groups, drug and alcohol treatment, health insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, maternal health resources, health insurance programs for children, medical information lines, clinics, and hospitals.
- Employment Supports – including job training, employment services, transportation assistance, and education programs.
- Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities – including adult day care, community meals, respite care, home health care, transportation, and homemaker services.
- Children, Youth, and Family Support – including child care, after school programs, educational programs for low-income families, family resource centers, and recreation programs, mentoring, tutoring, and protective services.
United Way 211 is available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 5 p.m. 211 is also available online by visiting uwce.org/211.