Our local 211Info line continues serving the community, even in a pandemic.

Dialing In Distress

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022

In an increasingly digital world, picking up your phone and calling an information line seems horribly outdated. However, a service such as 211Info – the free, confidential and life-saving call-line supported by United Way throughout the country – is still one of the most reliable and prompt ways of getting help from knowledgeable experts on a variety of issues in several languages. Callers can expect nimble navigation toward the resources they need, an empathetic ear ready with encouraging words and a savvy helper ready to empower them to keep moving forward. 211Info fielded nearly 200,000 calls in 2021 from our region alone, identifying a swath of unmet services our community needed help with and connecting these callers with the resources they need.

During this pandemic, the resources 211Info has been able to guide folks to have been more important than ever. A significant portion of the calls our local 211Info received over the past year were focused on housing, with food and healthcare coming in as the next most requested services. This data illustrates a failure in our community to protect and empower those struggling, a failure our partnership with 211Info is trying to fill. United Way of the Columbia-Willamette continues to support our local 211Info line, knowing the specialists that work there have our region’s best interests in mind. There are a myriad of stories that illustrate this reality, but one that stands out comes from a caller from Gladstone looking for holiday toys for her children. 

During her conversation with a Community Information Specialist at 211Info, the caller disclosed that she was having a tough winter, struggling to assist her school-aged child while in remote learning and dealing with reduced work hours due to COVID-19. The Community Specialist was able to refer her to an organization that provided holiday toys and clothes. Additionally, the caller was able to get rent and heating assistance, tenants' rights information and discounted internet. They told her about a food pantry in her neighborhood that would deliver food to her home and keep her children safe from COVID-19. “You’re making my heart sing,” the caller told the 211Info representative. 

This is the power and import of a service like 211Info. Even in a digital age (and they have online and text message support too!), nothing can compare to the empathy and support a real person can offer someone in distress. Support our local 211Info by visiting their site (https://www.211info.org/contact) and be sure to keep them in mind if you ever need help or know someone who does!

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