by Rick Pezzullo –
Most people are familiar with the 911 Emergency System, but many may not be aware of the 2-1-1 service provided by the United Way.
Launched in 2005, 2-1-1 is a free, confidential referral and information helpline and website that connects people from all communities and of all ages in seven counties in the Hudson Valley region to essential health and human services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Our mission is to be that primary entry point for those looking for help in human services in different communities,” explained Lini Jacob, Senior Vice President of 2-1-1. “We’re not going to turn anyone away.”
With 250 languages spoken, 2-1-1 offers assistance on food, housing, abuse prevention, government services, senior services, veteran’s needs, health and mental health, youth programs, child care, job assistance and substance abuse, plus many emergency situations.
“We do play a major role during disaster time,” Jacob said. “We don’t ask for names. All we need is their zip code. We want people to make use of it.”
In 2017 in Westchester, which ranks first in calls received on the 2-1-1 helpline in the region, more than 22,000 individuals were referred for services. Jacob said the helpline handles 200 to 250 calls a day.
“There are a lot of needs in the community,” she said.
Jacob emphasized the 2-1-1 service is effective because of the cooperation of numerous agencies that share information.
“2-1-1 is here because of different partnerships,” she said. “We wouldn’t have the database without the help and collective work of others.”
For more information, visit www.uwwp.org.