United Way Declares February 11 as National 2-1-1 Day
Free telephone service 2-1-1 handled more than 40,000 calls for assistance every day in 2012
BOULDER, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--National 2-1-1 Day recognizes the free, confidential phone number that connects people with important community services and volunteer opportunities. Just as we can dial 4-1-1 for telephone information and 9-1-1 for emergency dispatch, calling 2-1-1 connects people to essential human services including emergency assistance, training resources, employment help, food pantries, affordable housing options and support groups.
“But what happens when someone doesn’t know what services might be available to help them, or even what to look for?”
Lori Warrens, senior director of Community Solutions for VisionLink and recognized pioneer of the 2-1-1 service, is available for interviews to let more people know about this important service. Warrens developed the 2-1-1 system while working for United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta and also served as executive director of the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS), the international association for community help lines and 2-1-1 centers.
“Too often we think anyone can simply search the Internet for what they need today,” said Warrens. “But what happens when someone doesn’t know what services might be available to help them, or even what to look for?”
Warrens explains how the 2-1-1 system can uncover additional details to provide help. For example, if a mother of two needs to find emergency shelter due to a domestic abuse situation, finding an address is just the beginning. The 2-1-1 call center can ensure there is space available and ask questions to determine if the family needs transportation, clothing, diapers, toiletries or other basic supplies.
“A web search can quickly provide an address but is unable to focus on what we call the ‘second question.’ A trained, compassionate operator can unearth all of the details needed to solve the caller’s problem.”
Since its inception in 2001, 2-1-1 has expanded across the continent and has revolutionized access to human services across North America. As of February 2013, 2-1-1 serves more than 283 million Americans in all 50 states and 19 million Canadians. In 2012 alone, 2-1-1 services in the United States answered nearly 16 million calls.