When you have an emergency, you call 9-1-1. But what about when you’re looking for community resources, or confronted with hard times and need help? Call 2-1-1!
Think of United Way’s 2-1-1 Call Center as a 24-hour hotline for information and referral. 2-1-1 is your local community resource directory hotline with one call connecting you to a Community Resource Specialist, providing easy access to health and human services throughout Alabama. In 2019, our call center operators answered more than 42,150 calls, helping neighbors with information on resources for immediate needs, such as food, affordable housing or utility payments. They also worked closely with veterans to help them access services available specifically to them.
While it’s the information that callers need first, Clarissa Brown, Community Service Response Specialist at UWCA, explained that it’s the human touch that callers sincerely appreciate.
“Callers are really, really excited to speak with a live person,” she said. “A lot of times, they’ve called other places and gotten an answering service or voicemail, so to get a live person, that really matters.”
Shakeitha Tatum, Director of UWCA’s Community Service Response Center agreed.
“Sometimes having someone to listen can make a huge difference,” said Tatum. “Especially since 2-1-1 call specialists can help solve the problem as well as be sympathetic.”
And that human touch doesn’t end when you hang up. Call specialists will often propose a follow-up to see which resources, if any, solved the caller’s problem; and they’ll discuss other options if they still need help.
Although not quite as personal as a voice-to-voice conversation, you can also text the 2-1-1 Call Center at 888-421-1266. A call specialist will provide you with the information you need the same way they would on a phone call. They’ll even help you find volunteer opportunities or schedule an appointment with United Way’s Free Tax Preparation program.
“Sometimes, you need somebody to hold your hand, and we’re happy to help!” said Tatum.
*Please note, some cell phones may not be able to directly dial 2-1-1, so if this occurs, please call 1-888-421-1266.