United Way celebrates National 2-1-1 Day on February 11, 2016

This Thursday, February 11, United Way’s around the country celebrate National 2-1-1 Day. Almost 16,100 Dutchess and Orange County residents found help last year through United Way’s 2-1-1 free, confidential, multilingual information and referral helpline that is open 365 days a year from 9am to 7pm.

National 2-1-1 Day helps call attention to the need for and availability of the free helpline that, as of last February, served over 291 million Americans nationwide (93% of the entire population), covering all 50 states plus Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. The service is supported by United Way’s nationwide as well as local community and government partners.

“We thank County Executive Steven Neuhaus and the Orange County Government for the annual support they provide for 2-1-1 access,” noted Jeannie Montano, President and CEO of United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region. “But it is thanks to all of you and your support of United Way that this incredibly valuable resource exists. The easy-to-remember 2-1-1 number provides quick and easy access to anyone looking for help. The fact that 2-1-1 information is updated daily ensures that information is current and reliable.”

Every day, Hudson Valley Region 2-1-1 call specialists help connect callers to services such as food assistance, housing, abuse prevention, elder care, mental health services, recycling, services for people with disabilities, medical help, and much more. Hudson Valley Region 2-1-1 is a collaborative effort of the United Ways of Dutchess-Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Putnam-Westchester counties.

Recently a homebound senior called 2-1-1, crying and in pain. Confused about the dosage of medication she was prescribed she wasn’t able to correctly manage her condition. The 2-1-1 call specialist contacted her pharmacy and in speaking with the pharmacist clarified the dosage and instructions, which she then relayed to the 87-year-old caller. Relieved by the swift answer to her question, the caller relaxed and was able to take the appropriate dosage and a few days later in a follow-up call, the call specialist found that she did not require any additional help.

Another call came in from an agency specializing in pre-natal services and had a pregnant client struggling with substance abuse needing services that her agency did not provide. The caller had sought advice from several other agencies, but had been unsuccessful in locating the programs that would help her client. The 2-1-1 call specialist was able to locate a program that specialized in alcohol and drug treatment for expectant mothers.  In addition, the specialist told the caller that the referral could assist the expectant mother with counseling, case-management, child-care, and parenting classes. This call provided the agency representative with valuable, new information and, in turn, was able to provide help to the expectant mother.

“At a time when we are celebrating the positive impact the 2-1-1 helpline has in our community, we also need to reflect on what could happen if this resource and easily accessible referrals were not available,” said Kimberly Kochem, Vice President of Community Impact of United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region. “Where could our neighbors turn when seeking aid for these basic needs to keep their children warm, when many of us take these things for granted? It’s thanks to your support of United Way that this service is available for all of us.”

Remember, if it’s a burning building to call 9-1-1. If you have a burning question, call 2-1-1. The 2-1-1 service provides information and referrals which reduce non-emergency calls to 9-1-1, enhancing the efficiency of state, local and nonprofit organizations.

More information on 2-1-1 can be found online at www.hudson211.org, or by calling 1-800-899-1479.