Our 2-1-1 team here in Omaha answers residents’ call for help across all of Nebraska and southwestern Iowa, and they LOVE what they do.
“Between all of the utility, rent, food and other types of assistance and referrals, I received a call from an elderly lady. All she wanted was the phone number to the Social Security Administration. She was having issues with her disability benefits. She said I was the fourth person she had talked to in the hunt for the phone number. I was able to find the correct number and provided it to her. She was extremely thankful and said I was the nicest and easiest phone call she had all morning. That made my day because it was something as simple as a phone number that made her day that much easier. It’s small in the grand scheme of things, but that’s what makes 211 great – we can provide anything from a simple phone number to keep someone from pulling their hair out…to a rent payment that keeps someone from getting evicted.”
– Katie Kaijala, 2-1-1 Helpline Information Referral Specialist. Katie started at 2-1-1 in 2012.
This time of year our 2-1-1 office is constantly buzzing. Just this past week they answered an average of 400 phone calls per day from local residents asking for help. From sharing free tax preparation sites to helping a single mother utilize an energy assistance fund that kept her power on this month, our 2-1-1 referral specialists go above and beyond to connect our neighbors to the services they need when they fall on difficult times.
That’s why it’s so important to take some time to share just how much they mean to us as part of our United Way of the Midlands family and to our community. See the impact they have for yourself!
Did You Know?
In 2018, the 2-1-1 Helpline handled more than 58,000 calls and texts.
2-1-1 provided nearly 64,000 referrals to community programs in 2018.
55% of caller needs were related to housing and/or utilities. These are also the top unmet needs, as community resources are limited.
2-1-1 can assist callers in over 100 languages using our Tele-interpreter service.
Across the U.S. 94% of residents can dial 2-1-1 in their communities.
“We do not usually see people in person but last month a woman walked in during the government shutdown. She was not getting paid and was afraid she would be homeless soon with her kids. I noticed she was deaf, so we sat down together and exchanged notes on her situation and how I could help her. She needed help with her rent and utilities and we were able to find funding to pay her OPPD and MUD bills. I emailed her and informed her that if she had to move she could call us back and apply for help with the first month’s rent/deposit. She was so happy and thankful that we even tried to help her.”
– Fratina McCraney, 2-1-1 Helpline Call Room Supervisor. Fratina started at 2-1-1 in 2009.
Why is 2-1-1 important?
Through this vital service, United Way helps our community identify ongoing and urgent needs. Calling 2-1-1 helps eliminate confusing and frustrating searches for our most vulnerable populations – those who are elderly, have a disability or don’t speak English, for example – and others who need help finding available services.
By simply calling 2-1-1 or texting their zip code to 898211, a resident can gain access to programs that offer a plethora of supports and resources.
Information Referral specialists connect residents to:
- Housing assistance (rent, utility and deposit assistance)
- Financial assistance
- Food pantries, meal sites
- Health clinics
- Landlord/tenant issues
- Season services (tax preparation, holiday assistance)
- Shelters (homeless, victims of domestic violence or sexual assault)
“We had a caller who stated he was really cold and needed help getting his heat on and he had fallen. It was freezing out, he was disabled and you could tell he had a speech impediment. He was not able to reset the breakers, which is all he needed to do to get his heat back on. He had been calling his landlord who was not answering his calls. I was really worried so I began to ask questions. I found out that his payee was his brother so I tried calling him with no answer. I called my supervisor and asked if it was ok to call the police for a well check. I called the police and asked them to do a well check on the caller. They were able to send the fire department out to help him. I spoke with dispatcher 19.”
– Jean Cappellano, 2-1-1 Helpline Information Referral Specialist. Jean started at 2-1-1 in 2012.
Thank you so much to our local 2-1-1 sponsors!
Join us in celebrating our 2-1-1 team by sharing our posts about our 2-1-1 staff on social media or donating to United Way of the Midlands!
About the Author
Kylie is the Manager of Digital at United Way of the Midlands. Whenever you see a social media post or something new on the website, chances are she was behind it! She loves finding new ways to share stories online that inspire people to give back. Her favorite things in life are her family and friends, her pets Maisel and Bunny, and nachos.
United Way of the Midlands | 2201 Farnam Street | Omaha, NE 68102 | 402-342-8232 | M-F 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
2-1-1 Helpline | M-F 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. | Saturday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.