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Florida First Lady DeSantis visits United Way and 211 call center

October 7, 2019

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis, center, visits United Way of Northeast Florida headquarters Monday, Oct. 7.


First Lady of Florida Casey DeSantis visited United Way of Northeast Florida’s headquarters at the Jessie Ball duPont Center and the 211 call center Monday, Oct. 7.

Her visit was part of a statewide United Way 211 tour to better understand, emphasize the importance of and promote the value of United Way 211 in crisis prevention and intervention. Earlier this month, DeSantis visited the 211 call centers of United Way Suncoast and United Way of Broward County.

During her United Way 211 visit here in Jacksonville, she was joined by State of Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees, Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell, United Way of Northeast Florida president and CEO Michelle Braun, members of United Way’s leadership team, 211 staff and United Way Mission United advisers.

The group discussed with DeSantis challenges in the area of veteran services, suicide prevention/intervention, access to mental health care and mental-health stigma and financial stability.

“We are so grateful for First Lady DeSantis’ visit,” said Braun, president and CEO of United Way of Northeast Florida. “More importantly, we are grateful for her support of veterans and other vulnerable populations locally and across the state — and for raising awareness of the great need in our community that 211 and our partners serve every day.”

According to the most recent ALICE report, more than one third of residents in Northeast Florida struggle to make ends meet, either living in poverty or one crisis away from poverty. These individuals are the majority of the population served by United Way and its 211 operation.

In Northeast Florida, United Way 211 is a full-service information and referral contact center operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Calls are answered by trained call-center specialists with a database of community resources at their fingertips. United Way 211 service began in the Jacksonville area in 2002 and answers nearly 100,000 calls a year from residents in the nine counties it serves: Baker, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Hamilton, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns and Suwannee.

Referral services include but are not limited to: medical and health services; mental health care, including substance abuse; food, shelter and clothing; services for disabled individuals; adult, child and family services; emergency financial assistance; tax preparation services; and connection to the Elder Hotline.

United Way 2-1-1 is also the suicide intervention and prevention helpline for Northeast Florida and is nationally accredited by the American Association of Suicidology. Call center specialists are also certified and trained to handle crisis and suicide-related calls.

To help support United Way 211 and expand its crisis intervention, United Way of Northeast Florida is currently seeking funding to support the following:

  • Critical technology infrastructure for United Way 211, essential for coordinated veteran services operations and capacity
  • Veteran-focused care coordinators
  • Fill a critical gap in basic needs funding for our service providers


For more information on Florida First Lady DeSantis’ visit and how you can support United Way 211, contact Maureen Mercho at maureenm@nulluwnefl.org. More information on United Way 211 and other initiatives of United Way of Northeast Florida can be found at unitedwaynefl.org.