Information & Referral Service Helps Thousands with Life-Changing Support
Vermont Business Magazine Vermont 211 will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary February 11, 2020, with a Joint Legislative Proclamation and an afternoon coffee break from 1:30pm–3:00pm in the Vermont State House cafeteria. February 11 also is celebrated internationally every year as 211 Day.
As a free, 24/7 information and referral service, 211 provides unmatched, critical services. Every day, Vermonters contact 211 for confidential help to access crisis and emergency counseling, disaster assistance, food, health care and insurance assistance, stable housing and utilities payment assistance, employment services, veteran services, and childcare and family services.
211 provides expert, caring help. 211 does more than “patch people through” to agencies. Instead, 211 specialists are trained to identify and address root causes of problems – and connect people with a wide range of available resources that meet all their underlying needs, not just the one that prompted the call, text or email.
“On the front lines of Vermont 2-1-1 are the people who respond to thousands of Vermonters and help them navigate through the complicated web of health and human service programs annually. Highly trained Information and Referral Specialists help with concerns as diverse as there are Vermonters -- ranging from landlord and tenant issues, service complaints, where to find tax preparation assistance, legal representation, lead testing, job training, and inquiries on volunteering in their community,” according to MaryEllen Mendl, Executive Director.
211 meets real needs in real time. In 2019 alone, Vermont 211 received 36,529 calls, texts, and emails, helping thousands of people with life-changing support. There is no other organization in the state that has a similar pulse on Vermonters’ needs. Research at other 211s has shown a big savings in cost-benefit payoff. Services are valued at between 1.50 to 2.60 times the operational costs.
During a budget shortfall in October, when Vermont 211 had to temporarily reduce its hours, people in need had to contact other, less appropriate services for assistance. Keeping Vermont 211 24/7 keeps open an important safety net. The Executive Director of Vermont Enhanced 9-1-1 Board underscored the need for 211. “The experts at Vermont 211 offer critical information to Vermonters in need and ensure they are connected to the right resource at the right time – in many cases, providing support to callers who might otherwise have turned to 911 for assistance,” said Barbara Neal.
Vermont 211 is an Information and Referral program of the United Ways of Vermont. By dialing 2-1-1 24/7 or by texting your zip code to 898211, you will receive up-to-date information and referrals on health and human services for your area and region. (Text Monday-Friday between 8:00am-8:00pm.) The 211 Database is also available 24 hours a day at www.vermont211.org.
Source: United Ways of Vermont 2.10.2020