May 29, 2018

Heart of West Michigan United Way's 2-1-1 program is one of the best in the nation, so we're expanding it to help even more people in Michigan. Now, people in Ionia, Montcalm, Lake, Newaygo, Oceana, Mecosta, and Osceola counties will be able to connect to local services like housing, food, utility assistance, transportation, childcare, and more through our call center.

From a young age, children are taught to dial 9-1-1 in case of an emergency. For those who are facing a crisis regarding day-to-day needs, 2-1-1 can be another lifesaving hotline. But several counties in Michigan have lost their local 2-1-1 services.

Starting June 1, Heart of West Michigan United Way will restore service to seven more West Michigan counties.

From Montcalm County's The Daily News:

“When a crisis does hit, people do not know where to turn,” United Way of Montcalm-Ionia Counties Director Terri Legg said. “Often times, they make too much money for state assistance and not enough money to be able to meet all of their needs. That is when calling 211 can help individuals to get the local help with food, housing, employment, healthcare, counseling and more.”

Right now, those in need of assistance have to overcome many barriers just to obtain the information they need, and Legg said people can lose hope when they have to call multiple agencies to find the help they need.

211 is free, confidential and available 24 hours a day. The number can be dialed on a phone, or help can be reached with a mobile app, which emails the 211 call center. There is also a text option (898-211) in which a United Way 211 operator will be available to respond to the message between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

211 connects those calling for assistance to organizations and programs who can meet their specific needs, such as housing, utilities, elder care, mental health and other services.

“Contacting 211 brings back the hope and encouragement in times of crises. It also allows us to analyze the call data to better be able to bring the services to the community that we are currently missing,” Legg said. “Together, we can strengthen our community and build a better tomorrow.”