[TOLEDO, Ohio] – United Way of Greater Toledo (UWGT) is excited and grateful to announce Toledo City Council’s recent support of 211, a free, 24/7 information and referral service that connects residents to help.On October 10, Toledo City Council unanimously voted in favor of supporting United Way’s 211. The ordinance empowers Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz to enhance community support by amending the Toledo Recovery Plan and allocating $300,000 from the Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (ARPA) to strengthen United Way 211 services in Toledo. The funding allocation supports 211 at $100,000 per year for three years. The ordinance was sponsored by Council Members Nick Komives, Cerssandra McPherson, and Theresa Morris. It was passed with all 11 members of City Council voting in favor of the funding.
“We’re grateful to our partners at Toledo City Council and to the Mayor for understanding the critical role 211 plays in ensuring all of our residents have access to the resources they need to thrive,” said Wendy Pestrue, CEO of United Way of Greater Toledo (UWGT). She added, “As one of only two states lacking a dedicated funding model for 211 services, Ohio emphasizes the vital role of local public funding in delivering effective service to our community and meeting the diverse needs of our residents. No one can do this alone. Sustainable solutions rely on collaborative efforts between public and private sectors.”
United Way of Greater Toledo, which serves Lucas, Ottawa, and Wood counties, has experienced a surge in regional demand for its 211 services during and post the pandemic. Contact volume, including calls, texts, and chats, reached a high of 85,000 in 2022. Two-thirds (66%) of these contacts originated from residents of the City of Toledo. Based on reports from United for ALICE, 42% of Lucas county residents are either living below the poverty line or barely making it paycheck-to-paycheck despite working full time. This means many in our community are unprepared for unexpected medical bills, auto repairs, and natural disasters. In this regard, 211 plays a crucial role in supporting the community’s needs.
“211 is a vital service to our community that helps connect individuals and families with life saving resources. We’re proud to support their work and hope one day the state will step up and fund 211 like 48 other states in our nation. Undoubtedly, we’re grateful to the hardworking Community Resource Advisors who connect our residents to food, housing, education, healthcare, and more,” said Council Member Nick Komives, who was an early champion and strong advocate for 211 funding.
The top three needs identified by 211 callers remain consistent: housing and shelter, food access, and utility assistance. However, 211 also plays an important role in local disaster relief efforts.
In June 2023, when tornados struck the Lake Erie shoreline, 211 Community Resource Advocates (CRAs) were instrumental in providing immediate assistance to affected residents, setting up shop on the ground to assist with direct referrals, and access to food, water, and hygiene supplies, as well as fielding more than 500 contacts, many who lost food due to power outages or who had trouble meeting multiple insurance deductibles due to storm damage.
“The important and unique service that 211 offers is direct connection to a real person in real time,” Pestrue said, “Our Community Resource Advisors (CRAs) walk through what’s going on, they ask follow up questions to find out what else is happening in their home and in their lives to find out where else they may be able to find help. They help prescreen for services, saving calls and wait times for both residents and service providers.”
211’s database features access to 800 agencies and more than 2,300 programs. Those in need of assistance are encouraged to dial 211 or visit www.211nwo.org.
Beyond financial aid, the City of Toledo’s investment in 211 signifies a deepened partnership, fostering increased communication, data sharing, and smooth transitions between Engage Toledo and 211. This funding will also facilitate better integration with emergency services, enhancing the support available to residents during disasters and crises. Ultimately, this collaboration enables a more comprehensive approach to meet the daily challenges faced by Toledoans, emphasizing the community’s resilience and unity in times of need.
United Way of Greater Toledo mobilizes communities to ensure Northwest Ohio individuals and families can thrive. As one of the longest-serving charitable organizations in our region, we are trusted, innovative, collaborative and accountable. Proudly serving Lucas, Ottawa, and Wood counties since 1918.