By Katie Reams, Director of SC 211 Services
Everyone knows about 9-1-1. But fewer people know about 211, the nationwide service for non-emergency life challenges. The kind everyone faces at some point in their lives, when you have no idea where to turn but sure could use some extra help.
Fully funded by local United Ways, 211 is a vital service that connects millions of people each year to help in their communities.
Here are 9 things you might not know about 211:
1. We can help with complex challenges, whatever they may be. 211 connects people to resources like:
● Employment and job training
● Health and mental health assistance
● Child care and after-school programs
● Financial coaching
● Addiction treatment
● Food resources
● Affordable housing and rent assistance
● Legal services
● Disaster recovery
● Utility assistance
● Disability resources
● Veteran services
● Tax preparation
2. 211 is for anyone. Everyone faces challenges. Job loss, illness, natural disasters and other events can upend anyone’s life. In those moments, 211 is a good resource to have in your back pocket. Best of all, the service is free and available to everyone, regardless of income level. Spread the word to your friends, family and co-workers so they are prepared when things take a turn for the worse.
3. 211 is available 24/7/365. That’s every day, every hour, every minute of the year. And if you don’t feel like calling, you can use the website SC211.org or the SC211 text services.
4. Starting on Feb 11, 2023, 99% of the U.S. population has access to 211. Canadians also have virtual access to the service.
5. 211 helps tens of millions each year. In the Tri-County community, 211 made almost 30,000 connections between people in need and local help. That’s in addition to over 165,000 website searches!
6. When you call, you’ll talk to a real person. A trained, expert specialist answers the call, helps identify the root causes of your problem, and connects you to local resources.
7. Translation is available in 180 languages, making the service available to millions more people than would otherwise have access to it.
8. You can call to find volunteer opportunities in your area. The holidays are an especially good time to check, as 211 often has a long list of local organizations and families that need help.
9. 211 changes lives. Lives like a young mother in South Carolina who needed food for herself and her children. Once calling 211, she was connected with a food pantry located just down the street from her home that she could quickly get to that day.