Today, we’re shining a spotlight on a super important service that’s been a game-changer for many in our community – the 211 First Call for Help, powered by United Way of Greater Lorain County. Imagine having a friend who knows all about where to find help when you’re in a tough spot. That’s what 211 is like! Let’s dive into why this service is such a big deal.

211: Your Lifeline to Support

Have you ever felt lost trying to find help for things like food, housing, or even job support? It’s like trying to find your way through a maze, right? Well, 211 is here to guide you through that maze. 211 is a 24/7 information and referral hotline that connects people in need to the resources that help. Whether you’re facing hard times because of something big like the COVID-19 pandemic, or you just need a little help, a quick call or online search can connect you to tons of resources.

“Finding help shouldn’t be a daunting task and people seeking help should be treated with the dignity the deserve,” said Christine Matusik-Plas, Community Impact Director at United Way of Greater Lorain County who oversees 211 First Call for Help. “We believe in simplifying the process, no matter the challenge, by making it an easy phone call or a click away.”

A Helping Hand During Hard Times

During the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of people found themselves needing help for the first time ever. 211 was there to answer the call, connecting folks to critical services like food programs. In fact, they helped nearly twice as many people in 2020 compared to the year before.

“”The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to our doorstep, affecting countless lives in ways we never imagined. During these trying times, 211 stepped up to meet the surge in demand for assistance,” said Matusik-Plas. “It really underscores the vital role 211 plays in our community, especially when the need is greatest.”

Why 211 is Awesome

• Always Available: It’s super easy to remember and you can reach out any time.
• Connects You to Tons of Services: From avoiding eviction, finding legal aid, to job search support, 211 has got your back.
• Skilled Helpers: The folks answering your call really know their stuff and can help find the root of what you need.
• Speaks Your Language: With Spanish language services during normal business hours and translation services available, anyone can get help, no matter what language they speak.
• Realtime Data: United Way of Greater Lorain County is able to track the needs of the community based on call requests and online searches, and can make informed decisions about how programming can better meet those needs in the future.

Celebrating Success and Looking Forward

211 First Call for Help in Lorain County has been helping folks for over two decades, responding to over 441,000 requests for help in that timeframe. And just since July 1, 2023 alone, web searches have topped the number compared to all of 2022. That’s a lot of people finding the help they need!

The top needs people have are for housing, utilities, food, and health concerns. No matter the need, 211’s caring staff are always there, ready to lend a hand, any time of the day or night.

“”For over twenty years, 211 First Call for Help in Lorain County has been a constant source of support,” said Matusik-Plas. “Our recent surge connections reflects the growing need in our community for resources related to housing, utilities, food, and health. It’s a testament to the dedicated staff who answer the phones with compassionate support and guidance around the clock, providing a helping hand whenever one is needed.”

A Special Day for 211

February 11 is officially 211 Awareness Day in Lorain County! It’s a day to remember that if you’re feeling overwhelmed, 211 is just a call away. And it’s an important reminder to spread the word about the availability and convenience of 211.

“This day serves as a powerful reminder that support is there for people who need it, and it’s also a crucial opportunity to spread the word about 211’s availability and ease of access. We want everyone to know that they’re not alone and that 211 is here to help connect them to the resources they need, anytime, any day,” said Matusik-Plas.