The United Ways of West Virginia officially launched their revamped statewide information line, 2-1-1, Monday, making it the first statewide collaborative project ever undertaken by all 14 United Way chapters.
2-1-1 is a telephone number that links callers to health and human service information and referral through trained certified specialists. The 2-1-1 services are free and available 24-hours a day. Anyone can call 2-1-1 to have their questions answered about services in their specific area. The specialist will ask the caller questions in order to find the right services available.
“United Way’s new 2-1-1 will make information on a wide variety of local support services more accessible across our entire state,“ said United Way of Central WV President, Margaret O’Neal. “Whether it’s information for locating a health clinic, finding child care programs, or getting housing assistance, 2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember, go-to resource for individuals and families.“
The program originally started in the 1990’s and was run by a separate non-profit. The United Ways have taken over management and governance of the line to better align it with the communities across West Virginia. When callers dial 2-1-1, they are asked to enter their zip code, which then directs them to the correct United Way to handle their request. During evening and weekend hours, United Way has partnered with First Choice Services as their call center. The line is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“It was important for us to partner with a call center that understands the needs of individuals in a crisis,“ added Brett White, Executive Director of the United Way of Marion County. “First Choice has extensive experience working with several other hotlines and social service call numbers.“
Barbara Mallory serves as WV 2-1-1 Director. “2-1-1 is critical to our communities because it can literally save lives. During a crisis, individuals and families can receive help to find services, including mental health counseling, food, shelter, and clothing,“ said Mallory. “Also during natural disasters and significant crisis situations, 2-1-1 is used for non-emergency calls, freeing up the 9-1-1 call center lines.
In the coming weeks, service providers will be able to view information online at wv211.org. The United Way encourages you to submit a request through the website to update information so real-time updates can be made.
“In the Ohio Valley alone, we have over 400 non-profits that are there to help you with your needs,” said Jessica Rine, Executive Director of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley. “2-1-1 is a great place for you to call when you need any type of service. If you’re falling on hard times, if your house burns down, if you can’t pay your rent: in any of those types of situations, you can pick up 2-1-1 and they’ll direct you to the person who you need to speak with.”
If you would like more information on the program, dial 2-1-1.