Few people know about 211, the nationwide service for non-emergency life challenges. Most people face hardship at some point in their life, from unreliable transportation to putting enough food on the table – the kind of challenge where you don’t know where to turn, but you know you need some extra help.
Funded in part by local United Ways, 211 is a vital call center-based service that connects people to the help that they need by directing them to available resources in their community. We are fortunate enough to have local 211 services here in Greater Chattanooga.
Here are 8 things you might not know about our local 211:
1. 211 can help with a wide range of complex challenges. 211 connects people to resources like:
Employment and job training
Health and mental health assistance
Child care and after-school programs
Affordable housing and rent assistance
2. 211 is for anyone. Job loss, illness, natural disasters and other events can upend anyone’s life. In situations like these, 211 is a good resource to have in your back pocket. The service is available to everyone, regardless of income level. Spread the word to your friends, family and co-workers.
3. 211 is more than a call center-based service. 211 phones are operated Monday-Friday between 8:30am-5:00pm, but outside of that send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will get back to you as soon as possible. You can find more information on 211 here, and text your area code to 898-211 to start a chat.
4. 211 helps thousands of people in our community each year. In Greater Chattanooga alone, over 21,000 people received assistance from our local 211 in 2019.
5. You’ll talk to a real person. A trained, Community Resource Specialist answers the call, helps identify the root causes of your problem and connects you to local resources.
6. Our local 211 provides bilingual service, expanding the number of users than would otherwise have access to it. Our local 211 provides resource referral services in both Spanish and English for call and text.
7. You can call to find volunteer opportunities in our area. It's always a good time to check, as 211 often has a long list of local organizations and families that need help.
8. 211 changes lives. Lives like Clarissa Brown’s. Clarissa was on the brink of employment here in Chattanooga, but there was just one thing standing in her way. In order to secure the job, she needed a pair of steel-toed boots, which she couldn’t afford. Fortunately, she knew someone at 211 might be able to help. Our referral specialists connected her to the local Salvation Army, who in turn were able to provide Clarissa with the boots she needed from a thrift store in East Ridge. 211 connected Clarissa to her community, and her community rallied behind her. As a result, she was able to start her job at Volkswagen and provide for her loved ones.
We want to create more experiences like Clarissa’s. In order to do that, we need to keep our 211 services strong. United Way of Greater Chattanooga has just begun placing 211 Kiosks out in our community, making resource connection even more accessible. And we need your help to continue fighting to grow a stronger community.