This column appeared in the Parkersburg News & Sentinel on March 15, 2020
How does United Way serve a community in times of increased stress or even uncertain times? Very much in the way that they serve a community every single day. Our United Way is a collector, curator, and disseminator of critical information. We work hard every day to ensure that we have a finger on the pulse of this community. We pride ourselves in our ability to not only know but also understand the resources that are available to our neighbors. We recognize that resources change, service hours fluctuate, and temporary resources often rise up to meet emerging needs. This is information that must be available and readily communicated. All of those things are incorporated into what we do as we gather and house information.
211 is the platform through which we connect those with needs, questions, concerns with the robust resources that they might not be familiar with. 211 has the greatest bandwidth of information and referral; 211 is larger than just our community. United Ways across this country maintain, support, and deliver this product. It doesn’t matter where you are, and it doesn’t matter what community you’re searching connectivity in. 211 is here to serve you. While this resource is instrumental in our community every single day, our resource specialists work around the clock to ensure that needs can be met and inquiries directed as efficiently and effectively as possible. 211 has a mechanism that even goes beyond the critical information and referral. It also provides an opportunity to capture data and track trends. It allows us to deliver information to local officials and key stakeholders regarding our community. This can be particularly helpful in a time of crisis. It is also very helpful once we are “post crisis”, reflecting back upon how the community delivered service and how we may improve processes going forward.
As we step forward into some uncertain and alarming times, it is essential that we stay informed. Reliable and accessible information keeps us safe, helps us stay calm, and truly helps us to navigate difficult situations. Your United Way is here during this challenging time, as we always are. We are coordinating with community partners, engaging in conversations and contingency planning, and working diligently to ensure minimal disruption to key community services.
211 is a centralized source of information for everyone during this time. You can connect through a call, texting or chat. Dialing is simple… 2-1-1. You can access the chat feature by texting your zip code to 898-211. You can also go to the website, 211.org and connect to your local resources and utilize the chat option from this platform. We have measures in place to ensure that 211 sees no service disruption. We will be available, no matter what.
Everyday we are a conduit in this community. No matter the need, we are here to help you connect to the resource. What we do ALWAYS matters; what we do changes lives. We know how to collect and share information. Reach out to us anytime, but particularly in times like these. We will have constantly evolving and updating resources as we all navigate this unknown course together. We are here and ready to serve our community. Living United…. It’s how we make a difference!