On March 22, 2023, advocates and supporters of 211 gathered together in Columbus to share their stories and experiences about how the service has helped them and their communities. United Way of Greater Lorain County was proud to be part of a coalition of Ohio United Way representatives and their local partners who met with Ohio Senators and Representatives at the Statehouse and The Vern Riffe State Office Tower to advocate for $2 million in annual state funding to support 211 call centers run by 14 organizations.

By dialing 211, Ohio residents can speak with Information and Referral Specialists who match callers’ needs with thousands of available local resources. The free, confidential service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and assists people with basic needs such as housing, food, physical and mental health services, employment support, childcare, and more. Simply put, 211 is the first place to call for help and has many local benefits to residents.

One of the key benefits of 211 is that it provides a centralized hub for information and referrals, making it easier for people to access the services they need. Instead of searching through multiple websites, phone directories, or government agencies, people can call 211 and get connected to the appropriate resources quickly and efficiently (even when English is not the primary language used in the home).

Another benefit of 211 is that it is available 24/7, 365 days a year. This means that people can get help whenever they need it, whether it’s in the middle of the night or on a holiday. This is especially important for people who are experiencing emergencies and need immediate assistance.

Moreover, 211 is staffed by highly trained and compassionate specialists who are knowledgeable about the resources available in their communities. These specialists are skilled at listening to callers’ needs and concerns and can provide personalized referrals based on their individual circumstances. This can be particularly helpful for people who are unfamiliar with the social services system or who may be hesitant to seek help.

211 First Call for Help is a valuable resource for all communities, responding to over 800,000 calls statewide while providing a centralized hub for support services. Available at all times, 211 is confidential and non-judgmental, and promotes community health and wellbeing. By raising awareness of this service, we can ensure that individuals in need are aware of this valuable resource and can access the support and resources they need to thrive. If you agree that 211 First Call For Help is an essential community resource, we encourage you to reach out to your elected officials to advocate for the $2 million annual state funding to support 211 call centers across Ohio.

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