February 11 celebrates program offering valuable services to residents

GRAFTON—Before July, Taylor County had never had a United Way presence, but after the expansion of their services to include the county, residents are now able to access services provided by the organization.

One program that can be greatly beneficial to the residents of Taylor County is the United Way’s 2-1-1 program. The nationwide program serves approximately 96 percent of the country, and to help promote the 2-1-1 platform, United Ways celebrate 2-1-1 day February 11 each year.

“Because of it’s date, that day was selected to help inform residents about the great benefits they can receive through the 2-1-1 program, which is in essence an information and referral database,” shared Christopher Yost, 2-1-1 AmeriCorps Member for the United Way of Marion and Taylor Counties.

2-1-1 is geared at helping residents that are experiencing financial, domestic, health or disaster-related difficulties in life.

“It covers everything from, ‘How do I pay my water bill?’ to ‘What do I do if my house burns down?,’” Yost said.

The 2-1-1 program also acts as a safe and confidential path out of physical and/or emotional domestic abuse.

With a quick dial on the phone or by logging online, residents will be able to access a list of services within the county in a free and confidential manner.

Yost reported that the list would include supplemental food and nutrition programs, shelter and housing information, utility assistance, employment and education opportunities, and services for veterans.

In addition, individuals can also find information about services obtaining to health care needs, addiction prevention and rehabilitation programs, support groups and emergency and disaster relief information.

“We try to provide the best information available to those using the service,” noted Emily Swain, Community Impact Director for the United Way of Marion and Taylor Counties. “In totally we have 12,000 resources available throughout the state.”

Accessing the information is simple and easy. All residents have to do is dial 211 to be connected with a representative, text 211 to receive information or log on to www.211.org to chat with a representative.

“This is helpful because it limits the amount of time folks have to spend searching through the phone book or on internet searches, when they’re in need,” Yost said. “You can call this one number, and we will be able to help connect you with the services you need, when you need them.”

He said it was the mission of the 2-1-1 program to be more than an internet search.

“When you’re in need, you need to be able to have a conversation in order to obtain all the resources you need,” he added.

Swain said that not only is the program a wonderful and very useful tool for residents, but it also acts as a way for the United Way to gauge what services are needed most within the community.

The United Way has compiled lists that can specifically help residents in Taylor County, but Swain said that what they really need is for individuals to begin to utilize the service available to them.

“We want people to know that we are here, and we want to be a place for people to go for help,” she said. “The services are waiting; we just need folks to reach out to us for them.”

The 2-1-1 program in accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 265 days a year. For more information on the program, please visit www.211.org or contact the United Way of Marion and Taylor Counties by phone at 304-366-4450.


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