United Way and Community Partners Celebrate 211 Week

Written by Jon Dorcely

Jon Dorcely is the director of marketing & engagement for United Way of Greater Toledo. If you would like to connect with him please email Jon.Dorcely@UnitedWayToledo.org.

February 1, 2024

211

[Toledo, Ohio] – United Way of Greater Toledo (UWGT) is proud to celebrate 211 Week for the year 2024. Multiple activities are planned to engage the community and stakeholders online and in person, starting with Uplifting 211: A Breakfast Celebrating Stories of Community Connection on February 8. Events will continue through February 13th with 211 Training at the Glass City Enrichment Center. UWGT would like to thank the presenting sponsor, O-I, for supporting 211 and UWGT.

211 Day is celebrated locally and nationally to raise awareness about and recognize the good work that 211 does for the community daily. 211 is a free information and referral service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the phone, over text message and online chat to connect people with resource referrals in the community. This year, the city helped fund the program after Toledo City Council presented legislation providing $300,000 in funding through 2026.

Like 911 for emergent fire, health, and police issues and 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, 211 is an essential piece of public infrastructure in Northwest Ohio. During COVID, call volumes to 211 peaked at 104,000, but there are more than 70,000 contacts from people in need in our community regularly. The most highly requested resource in 2023 was the need for housing and food. On a regular basis, our neighbors make difficult decisions about whether to pay rent or put food on the table. These hard choices have been made more dire with the increase in inflation and interest rates post-COVID. The call line also frees up city resources for more urgent matters.

“211 is an invaluable resource to the City of Toledo. Since the inception of the 911 system there has been exponential growth in call volume. Utilizing 211 and the vast knowledge of the CRA’s (Community Resource Advisors) there is an opportunity to connect callers to the appropriate resources they need in the most effective and appropriate means while being able to keep vital safety services available for those with emergent medical and safety concerns. The Toledo Fire and Rescue Department appreciates the important services that United Way of Greater Toledo provides to the community, and we look forward to continuing our work with and support for United Way and 211,” said Deputy Chief Daniel Brown-Martinez of the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department.

Wendy Pestrue, CEO of UWGT, said that 211 helps people connect to resources and tells the community where the greatest unmet needs are in our region. “United Way of Greater Toledo is uniquely positioned to do more through our management of 211. We can connect data with the need to understand where money should be allocated to help the most people in our area,” Pestrue said. When calling 211, clients can keep their dignity while asking for help from the confidential service. Still, collecting certain metrics allows us to understand better where community service gaps exist. 211 and UWGT, through our Community Analytics and Research department, can see the need to help more people at a deeper level.

211 is available nationwide but is funded and managed locally by the United Way of Greater Toledo. UWGT provides services to Lucas, Ottawa, and Wood counties. 211 connects residents to vital connections in health and human services, including disaster relief, eviction prevention, legal services, tax filing, employment opportunities and access to food, clothing, shelter and much more. Callers contacting 211 are connected to Community Resource Advisors (CRAs). CRAs are the personal connection between callers and service organizations and are trained to “ask the second question” to identify root issues. 211 also provides translation services when necessary and connects callers to over 800 organizations and 2,300 programs. For more information about 211 and the continued good work, please visit www.211nwo.org.

211 WEEK EVENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES – PRESENTING SPONSOR O-I

Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 8:30 a.m. Uplifting 211: A Breakfast Celebrating Strategic Community Connection at the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex at the University of Toledo’s Main Campus. The event sponsor of the breakfast is the University of Toledo Medical Center. The event includes breakfast by Cork and Knife Provisions as well as networking opportunities and a presentation by United Way CEO, Wendy Pestrue, Retired Fire Chief Brian Byrd, Council Member Nick Komives and 211 CRA Colby Buzzell with uplifting stories about how 211 is making a positive impact on our community.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. 211 Community Training at the Glass City Enrichment Center. Jill Bunge, VP of Community Impact and other staff for an overview of 211 services and functions, learn how to search the 211 database and use the 211 dashboard. Open to the public.

Throughout 211 Week Virtual Scavenger Hunt: Learn more about 211, available resources, and how to use the database. The link will open on February 6 and can be found on the United Way of Greater Toledo Facebook page. Complete the Google form with facts about 211.

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