A woman who was not able to finish her lease agreement got help finding a renter’s rights specialist and figuring out her next steps to take. A man with no transportation found resources to help him obtain a bus pass he couldn’t otherwise afford. A woman with a recent disability was feeling isolated a went looking for a meaningful volunteer opportunity that she could perform with limited physical capabilities. I was able to help each of them connect with the help they needed when they called 2-1-1, the statewide dialing code for community resources.
Since I started my position as 2-1-1 Manager for Northern Utah, I have been determined to get the message out that 2-1-1 is a resource for everyone. It is easy to ignore a pamphlet that offers help finding a food pantry or a job when needing a food pantry or job-finding assistance is not in your foreseeable future. However, how many people will need a grief support group when they lose someone close to them? What about helping aging parents when they need to navigate the Medicare system? What about a mom’s nagging feeling that her toddler should be talking by now?
While it is true that most people who reach out to 2-1-1 are looking for help with basic needs such as food, housing, utilities, and jobs, there is a lot of untapped support available for so many situations. Chances are, if you are facing a problem and need somewhere to turn for help, 2-1-1 operators can quickly point you to the right place.
In trying to spread awareness of the variety of resources available through 2-1-1, I have been able to give presentations to caseworkers who work with troubled youth, parents, aging adults, and disaster victims. Others have clients struggling with substance abuse, child abuse, mental health, domestic violence, homelessness, and on and on. It is truly a privilege to be able to support their work in a small way.
These caseworkers spend a lot of time making phone calls and researching how to best help their clients. 2-1-1 resource sheets save them time so they can accomplish more work with their clients. Home visitors who provide services appreciate the 2-1-1 app that allows them to search for resources while they are right in a client’s home, especially in remote rural areas. I have also heard from high school counselors who appreciate being able to find services for a student’s family when a bad situation is having an impact on their education.
In my work as the 2-1-1 Manager for Northern Utah, I have had the opportunity to become familiar with many great organizations. I am constantly amazed at the passionate people in our community who work on committees and boards, in organizations, and as volunteers, to help better the lives of others in so many different ways. United Ways throughout Utah provide the 2-1-1 service because it brings together so many people to solve real problems facing our communities and help individuals and families thrive.
For more information or help, visit 211utah.org or text your ZIP code to 898-211.