2-1-1 assistance program serves dual role
by OUR CITY: Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland
Jul 31, 2014 | 425 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Our city's spirit of compassion has been proven many times.

We have numerous agencies, volunteer groups, churches and other organizations ready to offer a helping hand to those who need one.

But what if the person or family needing help doesn't know where to turn to find the people who can provide the type of assistance they need?

United Way of Bradley County has an answer. Start by dialing 2-1-1. The birth of this new program actually began through the Mayor’s Coalition coordinated by the city and county mayors’ offices to help provide a clearinghouse for community information. And United Way took it to a new level!

The caller gets in touch with someone trained to help find the right people who can provide just the type of help the caller needs. The 2-1-1 assistance relies on a database of information provided by numerous agencies and groups through United Way of Hamilton County. The data covers Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and even two Alabama counties.

Our own United Way participates in that database on behalf of Bradley and Polk counties.

The 2-1-1 help can connect those who need a particular social service, like food and clothing banks, utility assistance, daycare, transportation and much more, with the organizations that provide it.

According to the Federal Communication Commission's website, www.fcc.gov, the FCC reserved the 2-1-1 dialing code for community information and referral services in July 2000. The FCC calls 2-1-1 a shortcut for families seeking help.

Even before the FCC's action, United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta had been using the telephone number as a help link since 1997, according to the website, www.211us.org. The 2-1-1 help is available through United Way organizations across the country now.

Just as there are many sources of help in our city, there are many ways to become a volunteer and offer help. From our city's Make a Difference Day each year to community groups large and small, and of course our churches and civic groups, our community offers many opportunities for all of us to volunteer any amount of time we can to help others.

The 2-1-1 assistance actually serves a dual role. It helps organizations and volunteers who offer help as well. The service offered by United Way can help those as well. By linking up with United Way's Community Action Network, they can become part of that 2-1-1 assistance.

It’s a great concept that will help connect and network people offering help and people who are in need of help — a spirit of compassion reaching out again in our great community.

Thanks United Way — another People Helping People program now in place!