6 things to know about 211

There’s always more to discover when it comes to the 211 Helpline. That’s why we sat down with our 211 staff to learn about the Helpline’s history, new updates and who they helped in 2019. Check out the impact they’ve made in our community!

1. Before 211, there was “First Call for Help.”

United Way of the Midlands has provided phone-base services for more than 40 years. Before becoming 211 in 2002, they started as “First Call for Help.” After the transition, they expanded to the metro area and beyond and have taken about 950,000 calls from residents in Nebraska and western Iowa.

2. 211’s impact in 2019 and callers’ top requests for help.

In 2019, the Helpline assisted more than 92,000 individuals across Nebraska and southwestern Iowa. The top concerns of 2019 were utilities, housing and food.

3. The return of 24/7 support.

In 2019, 211 was approved for funding from the State of Nebraska which allowed the Helpline to return to 24/7 services. 211 is also a resource for police officers and other emergency responders who often encounter people in difficult situations.

4. 211’s response to natural disasters in 2019.

Our 211 Helpline answered more than 1,500 calls related to devastating flooding in 2019. Helpline specialists took calls from people needing shelter, cleanup, financial assistance and supplies. More than 400 of these calls were from generous individuals who wanted to give back, donate food and supplies and volunteer their time.

5. 211 addresses social determinants of health.

211 has recently partnered with two local hospitals and hopes to expand to other healthcare systems. This partnership involves educating medical staff about 211 and has resulted in monthly staff meetings at hospitals and clinics that include a Q&A session and end with distributing 211 materials.

Helpline materials can now be found in new patient packets, discharge packets, emergency rooms, patient rooms and at front desks at clinics. 211 is also working on a tear-off poster where interested patients can more discreetly seek help and learn how to connect with the Helpline.

The 211 team is also working with Nebraska Medicine to improve behavioral health referrals for residents. By working directly with a referral specialist in their behavioral health department, our 211 team aims to learn more about behavioral health crises and resources while also informing Nebraska Medicine staff about services that can assist patients outside of the hospital.

“So far these partnerships have been really successful and we are basically using the same model when we meet with each hospital since they have a common goal:
To not have patients return for the same health issue they were discharged for.”

– Fratina McCraney, 211 Helpline Call Room Supervisor. Fratina started at 211 in 2009.

6. Key partners who help the 211 Helpline continue to grow.

Our 211 staff works closely with Metropolitan Community College, Omaha World-Herald, Family Housing Advisory Services, Salvation Army, Heartland Family Service, Omaha Public Power District, Metropolitan Utilities District and Nebraska Public Power District to provide assistance to clients in need.

We are especially grateful to the Helpline’s corporate sponsors, Cox and Wells Fargo, who play an integral role in supporting the growth of 211.

211 is for everyone.

No matter how big or small the issue is, 211 is there to support you. By calling 211 or texting your zip code to 898211, you can learn more about local services and funding that can help you get back on your feet.

211 Helpline specialists help our community find:

  • Tax Help
  • Shelter
  • Food pantries
  • Utility assistance
  • Rent assistance
  • Domestic violence services
  • Counseling
  • Legal services
  • Clothing
  • Support Groups
  • Healthcare services
  • and more.

Get in touch today

Call: 211 or (402)444-6666

Text: Your zip code to 898211

Visit the 211 webpage for more

Here’s how YOU can support 211.

1. Donate what you can through the form below. Proceeds will support 211 to connect more people in need to resources that can help.

2. Share a social media post about the helpline. Feel free to share one from one of our profiles:


3. Print off and post this flyer in your workplace.

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About the Author

Okina is the Marketing Intern at United Way of the Midlands. She’s always ready to go when the marketing and communications team needs help with projects relating to graphic design, social media or writing. Outside of work, she loves to hang out with family and friends, go to the movies or play with her pup Barry.