United Way’s 2-1-1 hot line handles 100,000 queries

Feb 10, 2021 | Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

United Way 2-1-1 announced it has handled over 100,000 calls from the community for information, referrals for assistance and even help for Ottawa County residents eager to sign up for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Since its “2-1-1 Day” celebration when it was rolled out in July 2019, the free 24/7 telephone line has assisted community members in times of need. This year, the organization will be celebrating virtually, with a Facebook Watch Party and Facebook Fundraiser.

Additionally, United Way of Greater Toledo’s various social media accounts will be sharing videos, written content and visual graphics throughout the day on how 2-1-1 can connect individuals to various resources – from housing, food and utilities – to employment, health care and legal assistance.

“Seeing that our 2-1-1 Community Resource Advisors have taken more than 100,000 phone calls brings about conflicting emotions,” said Wendy Pestrue, president & CEO of United Way of Greater Toledo.

“On one hand, I have a great sense of pride that during this pandemic we have been there to answer someone’s call for help. On the other hand, this number brings so much gravity to how many folks are deeply hurting right now.”

“Over the last year, we have seen 2-1-1’s utilization from those we serve in Ottawa, Lucas and Wood counties grow exponentially,” said Jill Bunge, senior director of community impact at United Way of Greater Toledo.

“In 2020 alone, 2-1-1 handled nearly 60,000 contacts. This includes phone calls, online chats, text messages and emails, on top of almost 20,000 webpage visits we had to 211nwo.org,” she said.

This assistance has led to record-breaking numbers, never seen before by staff. The organization has shared that, in January of 2021 alone, United Way 2-1-1 received over 16,000 contacts. In a traditional month, the program finds itself handling 4,500-6,000 contacts.

The last 2-1-1 record was broken in March 2020, when 2-1-1 Community Resource Advisors received more than 9,000 contacts, mostly for breakfast and lunch meal reservations once school districts stopped in-person learning, and students found themselves without the food they usually receive during school hours.

“Our 2-1-1 Community Resource Advisors are heroes. They are each handling hundreds of calls a day, often absorbing that emotional distress of the caller and doing all they can to help. It is admirable to say the least and I know they will be remembered for their courageous work,” said Pestrue.

United Way 2-1-1 is a free, 24/7, 365-day health and human services referral resource for anyone in Lucas, Ottawa and Wood County. To speak with a 2-1-1 Community Resource Advisor, simply dial two, one, one; text your zip code to 898-211; or send an instant message at www.211nwo.org.

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