News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
SUNDAY, JULY 22, 2007

What’s the 211?
Help is just a phone call away

By Emily Peck · 340-2440

“911, what is your emergency?”

We all know the number to call when things go downhill fast, but whom do you call when it’s not a life-or-death situation?

Many people may not know it, but 211 provides help of a different kind. The number will connect you to everything from food banks to drug and alcohol intervention.

“It’s been successful in that we’ve gotten an increasing number of calls each day,” said George Pollitt, president of United Way of Morgan County, which helps run 211. “We’re trying to publicize in the community and let people know about it.”

The program began locally about nine months ago, Pollitt said. The Community Action Partnership of North Alabama runs 211 jointly with United Way.

“Most of the people who call in need assistance with basic problems,” says Pollitt. “Oftentimes, they can’t pay the utility bill, or they need help paying for food or rent.”

The place to start

Pollitt said the program is important because it helps those in need sift through an enormous amount of information.

“There are so many programs out there, most people don’t know where to start looking,” says Pollitt. “There’s a big need for this.”

211 provides a centralized number that simplifies things. When you dial, a specialist will refer you to the service or organization you need.

Connecting people, help

“It’s a referral service,” said Pollitt. “We work to connect people to the help they need and answer any questions they may have.”

211 can show you where to go for help with issues like Alzheimer’s, mental instability and domestic abuse. The number also provides information during local or national emergencies, such as hurricanes or tornadoes.

United Way gave the Community Action Partnership of North Alabama a $25,000 grant to fund 211. Pollitt said the grant will continue to be given in the future.

You can also call 211 if you want to help or volunteer.

Calling 211

211 provides services for the following:

  • Basic human needs.

  • Physical and mental health.

  • Employment support.

  • Support for older Americans and persons with disabilities.

  • Support for children, youth and families.

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