Every day, United Way 211 in Northeast Florida receives hundreds of calls from people in need.
Mothers searching for diapers for their children. Veterans looking for a warm meal and bed. A grandmother struggling to put food on her family’s table. A hardworking person trying to keep his lights on after a recent layoff.
Voices of all ages, races and incomes are found on the other end of the line. They call in hope of a helping hand to ease their burden, support through a particularly tough time and, sometimes, just someone to talk to.
But recently our team at United Way 211 received a different call – a call from a woman named Hazel* who simply wanted to say two words: thank you.
“I am eternally grateful,” Hazel said. “Thank you for your service. God bless you all. I just can’t tell you how much I really appreciate this.”
United Way 211 is a vital, life-saving helpline that connects anyone in need to available community resources. The 211 database includes a vast list of organizations and resources like food pantries, shelters, mental-health clinics, financial management services, child-care resources, crisis assistance, employment services and much more.
And it’s all free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Your local 211 – part of a national network of 211s across the country – covers nine counties here in Northeast Florida: Baker, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Hamilton, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns and Suwannee. During 2020, a record-breaking (and heartbreaking) year due to COVID-19, our community resource specialists answered 95,275 calls, connecting these callers to more than 92,800 community service referrals.
211 staff continue to serve on the frontlines of individuals in crisis and families in need in Northeast Florida. In 2021, our staff answered 111,615 calls and issued 96,406 referrals. The highest needs in our community continue to be rent and utility assistance.
United Way 211 also provides the infrastructure for other critical support services, including new initiatives such as Mission United’s dedicated care coordination for Veterans and Ride United’s transportation and meal-delivery programs.
This summer, United Way 211 launched the 988 short dial for quicker access to mental health care in partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. With this lifeline expansion comes the addition of a dedicated team of trained crisis specialists to the Northeast Florida 211 team and the opportunity to save more lives.
In the midst of all of this growth, the United Way 211 team is also planning for the future: investing in new technology to reach more people, increasing staff to answer more calls, and forging new partnerships to expand our current resource database.
While it’s been a tough few years for all of us, United Way 211 and the entire United Way of Northeast Florida family are proud to walk with you in our collective effort to help those who need help most. Just like Hazel, United Way is so grateful for your support. Thank you for making this life-changing work possible and for amplifying good in our community.
*pseudonym used to protect identity
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