211 help line in service 4.29.09

Written by David Green.

Lenawee County’s new 2-1-1 health and human services telephone line has been in service for several weeks now,   providing ‘round-the-clock service for less-than-emergency needs.

The Lenawee United Way continues its efforts to get the word out on the benefits of the service to county residents.

Individuals looking for help with mortgage assistance, utility bill payment assistance, food, shelter, counseling services, and many other forms of help can call 211 to be connected to the available resources in the area.

Kathleen Schanz of the United Way lists three benefits from the service.

The 2-1-1 line diverts many non-emergency calls from the 9-1-1 service and allows those personnel to do a more efficient job.

2-1-1 helps cut through red tape with a live responder assessing the situation and consulting a database.

“People get tired of hearing, ‘We don’t do that’ when they call for help,” Schanz said. “2-1-1 does do that.”

Finally, the service provides each participating community with a barometer to gauge the social needs of an area.

The need for the service appears to be growing, she said. The Jackson center received 27,000 calls in 2007. In the first three months of 2008, nearly half that many calls have been made.

Morenci police chief Larry Weeks gave his support for the service when Schanz first introduced the program to city council members.

“I don’t know if people realize the number of calls that come to city hall,” he said. “There are so many services that we aren’t even aware of.”

“Remembering the 2-1-1 number is much easier than remembering phone numbers for several different agencies or resources,” said Amy Palmer of the Lenawee United Way.

There is no charge to call 2-1-1 and translation is available for non-English speaking callers.

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