United Way’s 211 helpline assists those in need in both Nebraska and Iowa

Originally Published: March 21, 2023

United Way’s 211 helpline assists those in need in both Nebraska and Iowa

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — For years, United Way of the Midlands has had the 211 Helpline readily available to help people with everyday needs. But for those picking up the phones, it may be just as rewarding.

And for some, it’s a chance to give back.

For over 23 years, Nebraska 211 has answered the call.

“Every day you are helping somebody and that’s, you know rewarding,” said Fratina McCraney, 211 program and training manager.

14 years ago, McCraney started working at 211 part-time.

“For me, it’s really personal because I’ve been on the other line, you know the other side of the phone before,” she said.

McCraney called years ago hoping to get help so she and her daughter could get by.

“I called in to 211 and got help with my very first apartment. They paid my rent deposit. And back then I just utilized some of the food pantries as well,” she said.

211 has access to about 13,000 resources including food pantries, housing and utility assistance, employment support, childcare, mental health and more.

“In most cases, they are able to use them immediately, so we try and give them a resource that matches their need, like a food pantry that’s open today, that you can go to now,” said Senior Manager Myria Ming.

Ming says they help roughly 1,000 callers per day.

In 2022 alone, 211 helped over 360,000 people. That’s up 40% from 2021 and they anticipate the need to increase.

“Sometimes they just need that little bit of help and we are that little bit of help to the next place in life,” said Ming.

There are several ways to get ahold of these resources. Folks can call, text, chat and email about them and it’s all confidential.

“There is always a live person 24/7, in all of those channels. So I would just say to reach out and know that, the person on the other line does care,” said McCraney.

Many at 211 are like McCraney and have called in themselves. For her, it’s a full-circle moment.

“It made me become an advocate for the rest of my life, that if there is anybody that I knew in need, that I need to tell them that they can always call 211 24/7 and they can get resources,” she said.

Click here for Nebraska resources.

Click here for Iowa resources.

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Read the original article here.