The ‘Invaluable’ Work of United Way 2-1-1 Specialists

One of United Way of Central Alabama’s 2-1-1 call specialists poses for a picture at United Way’s campus in Birmingham.

To celebrate this year’s National 2-1-1 Day, which was recognized this month, we are excited to once again highlight the dedication and impact of our 2-1-1 call specialists.

A free service, 2-1-1 is a telephone helpline with trained specialists who are available 24/7 to provide callers with support, information and connections to a wide range of essential community services in their area.

United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) operates the 2-1-1 Call Center that answers inquiries in all six counties of our service area: Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker, as well as Cullman County.

Call specialists can refer to resources from more than 800 organizations in the 2-1-1 database. From emergency assistance to housing support and mental health services to utility assistance, 2-1-1 serves as a lifeline for those facing crises or simply in need of guidance or information.

In 2023, UWCA’s 2-1-1 Call Center responded to more than 27,000 inquiries from people throughout the state. Calls to 2-1-1 are confidential and can be anonymous. 

Top 2023 Needs:

  • Housing Assistance: 13,372 calls
  • Utility Assistance: 8,351 calls
  • Transportation Assistance: 1,700 calls
  • Food/Meals: 1,393 calls
  • Individual, Family and Community Support: 1,368 calls

Every time a UWCA 2-1-1 call specialist picks up the phone, callers in need get the help they need, the courtesy they deserve…and hope.

Our 2-1-1 Day highlights “the invaluable services offered to our community” by the program, said Karla Lawrence, Senior Vice President of Community Initiatives at UWCA.

“Whether in times of uncertainty or crisis with healthcare, housing, food and utility assistance, as well as disaster response and recovery, knowing that help is just a phone call away can make all the difference,” Lawrence said. “As we celebrate 2-1-1 Day, we also want to thank the dedicated 2-1-1 call specialists who support and uplift our community.”

Recently, a few 2-1-1 specialists told us what keeps them motivated to do the work every day.

“Serving the [people of our] community in their time of need and knowing how much they appreciate the assistance is what motivates me each and every day as a 2-1-1 specialist,” one said.

“Knowing how valuable the 2-1-1 informational component is to the community is what motivates and encourages me as a 2-1-1 specialist,” said another.

We want to encourage members of the community in Central Alabama to join in celebrating 2-1-1 Day by spreading awareness about our local 2-1-1 services. For more information about 2-1-1 and the services provided, please visit, or call 2-1-1 to speak with a trained specialist.