National United Way 2-1-1 Day is Sunday February 11
Sunday, February 11 is National 2-1-1 Day, and it is also a day to celebrate the local United Way 2-1-1 health and social service helpline.
United Ways have been long-standing supporters and national leaders of the 2-1-1 movement. United Way of Lee County was an early adopter of the 2-1-1 system in Florida. United Way 2-1-1 began serving Lee County in August of 2003. United Way 2-1-1 is a free, 24-hour, non-emergency helpline for referrals to health and social services which provide food, housing, medical, veterans services and more in Lee, Hendry, and Glades Counties. During Hurricane Irma, United Way 211 became the Storm Information Hotline, operating in Lee County’s Emergency Operations Center. Our United Way continues to strengthen and support 2-1
-1 as a way to build a stronger community and improve the quality of life for all people in our community.
United Way President Cliff Smith said, “United Way 2-1-1 is vital service that connects people in our community to the services and assistance they need. Following the United Way collaboration philosophy, United Way 2-1-1 plays an important role in our community through various special projects and partnerships including helping veterans and active service members through Mission United.”
The following are active United Way 2-1-1 special projects and partnerships:
- Abuse Counseling and Treatment Center (After Hours Coverage)
- Affordable Care Act
- Bridges/Building Stronger Families
- Community Assistance Network Program
- Florida Department of Health Diabetes Project
- Help Me Grow
- Lee Community Healthcare
- Lee County Task Force on Hoarding
- Mission United
- My Florida Vet
- Storm Information Hotline
- Summer Break Spot
- VITA – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
Because there are literally thousands of agencies and programs to help people in Southwest Florida, United Way 2-1-1 exists to help people navigate their way through the maze of health and social service agencies. When someone calls 2-1-1, a trained Information and Referral Specialist assess the caller’s situation and provides the most adequate resources to meet those needs. The top needs of people in our area calling for assistance are:
- Tax preparation (VITA)
- Emergency shelter
- Medical care
In 2017, our United Way’s Information and Referral Specialists handled over 98,000 calls; 42,000 of those calls
were Hurricane related calls. In addition, the United Way 2-1-1 webpage had nearly 24,000 website inquiries for information about health and social services in Lee, Hendry, and Glades counties (www.UnitedWayLee.org).
2-1-1 service began in the Atlanta area in 1997. Today the service is available nation-wide with 90% of America’s population having access to 2-1-1 services. In 2017, over 14.3 million people called for health and social service information such as the location of a food pantry, help paying a utility bill, and finding the nearest hurricane shelter.
According to Brian Gallagher, President and CEO OF United Way Worldwide, “211 is a vital community-building tool. I’m proud that 2-1-1 is available to almost all Americans.”
United Way 211 Information and Referral assistance can be reached by simply dialing 2-1-1, or (239) 433-3900 in Lee County. In Hendry and Glades Counties, dial 2-1-1 or (800) 887-9234. Assistance is available in both English and Spanish languages. Or you can search the online United Way 2-1-1 database by clicking here: https://www.unitedwaylee.org/211-data-base/