United Way Fox Cities

The Compassionate Role of 2-1-1

*name has been changed for privacy reasons.

Every February 11 is celebrated as National 211 Day, which was established to bring awareness to the free 211 service used by millions across the country. 211 is a one-stop connection to local services like transportation, food, shelter, healthcare, legal services, and more.

Last year, the 211 call center operated by United Way Fox Cities responded to over 14,000 calls, texts, and chats – including a call from Mary*.

Mary, an 82-year-old in the Fox Cities, dialed 2-1-1 in tears when she wasn’t sure how to pay a bill. She recently lost her husband of 50 years and fell behind on payments after being hospitalized for nearly a month. Her utilities were on the brink of disconnection, and she had to navigate the burden of bills she had never managed before.

Upon answering the call, our 211 Information & Referral Specialist quickly recognized that Mary was overwhelmed. They reassured Mary that United Way’s 211 would advocate for her and connect her to the right resources.

211 delivered by:

  • Making a few calls on her behalf to a local agency. This agency had previously turned Mary away. But when 211 explained Mary’s situation, they agreed she should qualify for assistance and scheduled an appointment.
  • Reviewing all of Mary’s possibilities for support. While Mary specifically requested help with her utility bill, 211 identified additional community services that might apply to her situation. In addition to utility assistance, the call specialist directed her to options for grief support and the ADRC to see what else she could qualify for through the county.  

After seeking out the services available in our community, Mary paid her bill and prevented her utilities from being disconnected.

“For the first time in months, I feel less alone and grateful there are still people out there who care.”

– Mary

This is just one of the powerful connections made every day in our community. United Way envisions a world where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through health, education, and financial stability.

If you share this vision of a stronger, more caring community for everyone, join us by choosing to give, advocate, or volunteer. Share three simple numbers (2-1-1) with a neighbor today.  

How to contact 211:

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