Local United Way 211 information referral line debuts
United Way of Rock River Valley, in partnership with PATH, Inc., and United Way Illinois, launched Aug. 24 the region’s first 2-1-1 phone system, a free and confidential information and referral line for residents in Ogle and Winnebago counties.
United Way of Rock River Valley is the first Illinois site to launch 2-1-1 services after pilot sites in McLean County and greater St. Louis introduced services in 2009.
The launch was held at the United Way of Rock River Valley office in downtown Rockford and featured a simulation call to United Way 211.
“The partnership between United Way of Rock River Valley, United Way Illinois and PATH focuses on the need to make services more accessible to those in need,” said Paul A. Logli, president & CEO of United Way of Rock River Valley. “With thousands of nonprofit organizations in the Rock River Valley, finding help can be confusing and intimidating. People who want to give help often do not know where to begin. With United Way 211, we’re breaking down the barriers between those who need help and those who can help them.”
Individuals and families seeking services or volunteer opportunities can call 2-1-1, a universally recognizable number that makes a critical connection between callers and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies.
United Way 211 offers free information about a broad range of services, including rent assistance, foods banks, affordable housing, health resources, child care, after-school programs, elderly care, financial literacy and job training programs.
PATH, which enables 2-1-1 services in Illinois, began collecting local information for the 2-1-1 database in November 2011. The database will continue to grow, and is updated frequently to deliver the most reliable and up-to-date local information.
PATH Executive Director Karen Zangerle said: “The United Way 211 database is virtually unlimited in capacity to enter agencies and programs. The sophisticated program manipulates data in several ways and pulls resources within 50 miles of the caller’s ZIP code.”
Calls to United Way 211 are received by trained specialists from a call center operated by PATH in Bloomington, Ill. The three digits of “2-1-1” are translated by each telephone company and the 211 network identifies the area code and prefix of the originating call and seamlessly connects the trained specialist and caller to local services. The 211 network supports multiple languages, including Spanish and Manadarin Chinese.
Most wireless carriers have completed the work needed for 2-1-1 access while work remains with Comcast to provide access. Because most cellular plans charge customers based on usage, standard rates may apply for calls to 2-1-1 using a wireless phone.
For organizations with in-house business extensions telephone systems, or PBX, programming modifications may need to be made to enable three-digit dialing to ensure employees have easy access to 2-1-1.
If you experience trouble connecting to 2-1-1 services, you may call 800-570-7284 to connect to a United Way 211 specialist 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For more about United Way 211, visit www.unitedwayrrv.org.
From the Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 2012, issue
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