Thursday, April 24, 2008

Finding information is as easy as dialing 2-1-1

Every hour of every day, someone in the United States needs essential services—and the Marshfield area is no exception. A single mom is looking to secure adequate child care, a family is searching for social options for a disabled relative or an adult son needs help caring for his aging parents.

There is one place these three people and others can turn to get connected and get answers: United Way’s 2-1-1.

By dialing 2-1-1, you are connected to a trained and friendly operator who has a database of community programs at his or her fingertips to help you find what you’re looking for.

When you call 2-1-1 you receive confidential information or referrals to human services for every day needs or more complex problems. With an increasing amount of programs and services is available, it can often be confusing to know the right place to call. In many cases people end up going without necessary and readily available services because they did not know where to start.

But 2-1-1 eliminates the confusion, because there is information about resources like food banks, rent assistance, utility assistance, support groups, counseling, financial assistance, transportation information, respite care, independent living programs, child care, protective services and more.

School will be out in a couple of months and it’s a perfect opportunity for you to pick up the phone and utilize 2-1-1’s resources. You can learn about the range of age-appropriate activities for your children. This may include your local library’s hours and how to get involved in its summer reading program or details about summer camp options and other local recreation programs.

These services aren’t limited to only the Marshfield area. In February 2006, 46 percent of the U.S. population had access to 2-1-1 services. In January 2008, coverage has expanded to 76 percent. Twenty-four states have 100 percent coverage—including Wisconsin—with the rest in implementation stages.

Marshfield Area United Way and United Way of Inner Wisconsin partner to provide the Marshfield area 2-1-1 services, available 24 hours a day, everyday.

Get connected to the information you are looking for any time day or night by dialing 2-1-1 or visiting

Contributed by Stacey Oelrich, United Way’s 2-1-1 Program Coordinator and Communications Director