2-1-1: Another Way United Way Helps Our Community

2-1-1 Connects Alabama is a free, user-friendly phone number that serves 94% of America's population. “In the Lake Martin Area United Way coverage area of Coosa and Tallapoosa Counties, our 2-1-1 call center received almost 650 calls for help last year,” said Courtney Layfield, Marketing and Initiatives Director. “Throughout the year, the most common calls to 2-1-1 from our area were for housing, including rent assistance, energy/utility assistance, and healthcare, including prescription medication assistance. People also called for transportation, legal services, food assistance, holiday assistance, childcare, senior resources, employment help and more.”

2-1-1 was launched by United Way Worldwide almost 20 years ago as a free “one-stop” way to connect people to essential resources. In 2017, 2-1-1 centers nationally answered more than 14.3 million requests for help; almost half of the requests were for things we all need not only to survive, but to thrive – safe and stable housing, food and health. In Alabama, all our 2-1-1 call centers were linked together following Hurricane Katrina and our recognition that we needed a centralized database of referral resources to best help our communities and those new or visiting our state.

Last year, 2-1-1 was an important part of United Way’s response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Teams in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida, as well as 2-1-1s providing back-up nationwide, answered almost 800,000 requests for help, information and support. “Our Alabama 2-1-1 centers took numerous calls from evacuees from the affected states looking for shelters, hotels, gas, livestock shelters, campgrounds, etc. All the United Ways, including the Lake Martin Area United Way, came together and shared all our resources to help those that had been displaced.”

2-1-1 is the community’s go-to resource for any kind of assistance that anyone needs throughout the year for personal everyday needs or during a disaster or personal crisis. “2-1-1 is the number to call when you don’t know who to call. It’s another way United Way is helping the community.” 2-1-1 also maintains the integrity of the 9-1-1 system, reserving 9-1-1 for life and death emergencies.

When someone dials 2-1-1 they will be prompted to enter their zip code on their phone key pad which then routes them to their local call center. The call is then answered by a trained Information and Referral specialist. 2-1-1 Call Specialists are trained to assess the caller’s need and identify resources from a comprehensive database of local community resources.

To reach a call specialist, dial 2-1-1 or 1-888-421-1266; text 888-421-1266; or visit 211connectsalabama.org to chat with a specialist online.