Monday, February 23, 2009
To find local human services, thousands of callers are using United Way of the Plains' easy-to-remember phone number, 2-1-1, which celebrates its third anniversary on February 23.
The number is toll free across Kansas, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When people dial 2-1-1, they talk to a trained United Way call center specialist who will assess their needs and refer them to services that are available. It also acts as a public information system during disaster situations.
Record call volume
Since its launch in 2006, 2-1-1 has received a steady increase in calls. In 2008, 2-1-1 averaged 127 calls per day for a total of 46,602 calls. This was a 119% increase from the number of calls in 2006.
Prior to 2-1-1, United Way offered InfoLine, a local Wichita seven-digit phone number with limited hours. In 2005, InfoLine received 9,047 calls. 2-1-1 received five times the call volume in 2008 of that of InfoLine in 2005.
Some of the most requested services from 2-1-1 include: food assistance, dental care, homeless shelters, counseling services, child care information, senior citizen services, parenting assistance, rent and utility assistance, and tax preparation assistance.
In addition to offering information on human services and volunteer opportunities, 2-1-1 also acts as a public information system during and after a tornado, flood, terrorist attack or other crisis. It connects victims with needed services and links volunteers to local needs.
2-1-1 received 1,725 calls in the month that followed the Greensburg tornado in 2007. Of these calls, 170 individuals were seeking assistance and 1,555 callers requested volunteer and donation information.
In December 2007, an ice storm struck Reno and the surrounding counties. 2-1-1 received 368 calls from the affected area, with 261 of these calls specific to cleanup efforts in Reno County.
Valuable Tool for Laid-Off Workers
Laid-off workers needing assistance should dial 2-1-1. With one call, they can find services to meet their needs in areas such as financial counseling, job training, health services, basic needs and much more.
How United Way 2-1-1 works
When people dial 2-1-1, they talk with a United Way 2-1-1 call center specialist who will assess the callers' needs and refer them to programs best equipped to handle their needs and that are nearest to them.
The United Way 2-1-1 call center has more than 2,000 programs in its comprehensive database of nonprofits, government agencies and community-based organizations that provide human services across the state of Kansas. The United Way 2-1-1 call center also helps connect people wanting to volunteer their services with a program that best fits their interests and talents.