United Way 211 expands vision, service to people in need

Feb 19, 2020 | Featured | 0 comments

Image of Allison Lanza speaking in front of a crowd

Director Alison Lanza Falls of the United Way of Ottawa County outlines the myriad of agencies and community groups that have gathered under the banner of the Local Resource Exchange 2-1-1, which made its debut before a packed house last week at Camp Perry, the Ohio National Guard installation on Lake Erie, just west of Port Clinton. (Photo by D’Arcy Egan)

United Way of Ottawa County has gathered a wide range of social and non-profit agencies over the past year to jump aboard a new look Local Resources Exchange. By dialing 2-1-1, people in need can be efficiently referred to the best area agencies that would be able to help.

The 2-1-1 social services contact line is not new, but through United Way it will have a fresh look and purpose in Ottawa, Lucas and Wood counties.

“The Sequential Intercept Mapping (SIM) group met many times over the last year, and they are truly responsible for the success of our 2-1-1 Day on Tuesday, Feb. 11,” said Director Alison Lanza Falls of United Way of Ottawa County.

The SIM formula determined the need to identify the priorities for change for Ottawa County. The goal had been to raise the visibility and vision of 2-1-1 — a free, confidential and anonymous information and referral service.

“The Coordinated Point of Service Entry is simply a telephone call to 2-1-1,” said Falls. “It is an assurance that anyone in Ottawa County in need of assistance in health and human services will be connected to people equipped to provide that support.”

The Local Resource Exchange in Ottawa County has 26 agencies that have teamed up to provide seamless assistance by connecting a person with a trained Community Resources Advisor. Those advisors are available around the clock to help with issues that range from food and shelter to clothing and general assistance, mental health and family issues.

The 26 agencies connected to the Local Resource Exchange range from the Ottawa County Family Advocacy Center to the Salvation Army, Ottawa County Department of Job and Family Services, Ottawa County Food Pantries, Light House Sober Living, Ottawa County Veterans Services and the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Erie & Ottawa Counties.

“We have over 1,000 partners and roughly 5,000 programs listed within our 2-1-1 database,” said Wendy Pestrue, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Toledo. “Often, we talk about tough problems that families in our community face as one-dimensional.

“If a person is struggling to pay the rent or mortgage, that is not the extent of the issue. That person is financially struggling, which means they are probably also struggling to put food on the table, purchase clothes for work and keep the lights on in their home.”

In 2019, United Way 2-1-1 was contacted more than 60,000 times. It is estimating that will rise to 70,000 to 75,000 contacts in 2020. The size of the 2-1-1 Day crowd eager to get behind the initiative was ample proof of area wide support of United Way 2-1-1.

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