Every year, United Ways across the network celebrate Feb. 11 as 211 Day to raise awareness about the 24/7 information and referral hotline and the incredible teams that power it. This year, in celebration of 20 years of United Way 211 answering the calls for neighbors in need, United Way of Northeast Florida is highlighting United Way 211 team members, sharing how their dedication is making a difference in the lives of families and individuals in our community.
I’ve been employed with United Way of Northeast Florida for a little over a year. I am currently holding a position as an information and referral specialist for United Way 211. As a single mom of multiple children, I can relate to the majority of callers which motivates me to try to help as many people as possible even though referrals and resources can be limited. It is my duty to ensure each call is handled in a very unique and delicate way. As a specialist, I’ve learned compassion is to look beyond our own pain and to see the pain of others. I always make sure to go above and beyond to make each call end on a better note than when it started. Whether it’s information and referral or a mental health crisis call, the goal is to provide comfort, strength, and most important, compassion.
As I look back on my journey as a specialist, one of my most heartfelt and memorable moments would have to be when a single mom of three called for financial assistance. The caller felt really hopeless because she was married for ten years as a housewife and never worked a day in her adult life, but her husband had left her and their children with little to no money, past due bills and no food. Not only did I provide the caller with referrals and community resources, it was my comforting words and empathy that helped turn her sorrow into joy.
The hardest part of being an information and referral specialist is not being able to provide immediate assistance to the seniors whose lights may have been disconnected, and the bedbound-callers who have little to no food in their home. My weakness would definitely be the seniors and the disabled. Not being able to respond with immediate help saddens my heart. I also know and understand more resources are on the way and that alone keeps me going.
It warms my heart when people call back to share their great experience with our team. Without knowing so, the callers are motivating us to keep going and to always remember to take it one call at a time.
One thing I wish the community knew about our team is we take every call as if it was our very first call. We work hard to ensure we are answering each call with love, compassion and empathy. I am, and forever will be, a proud member of the United Way 211 team.
We’re thankful for call center specialists like Delores and everything they do to help neighbors in need across Northeast Florida. To learn more about services and resources available through United Way 211, visit unitedwaynefl.org/get-help or dial 2-1-1 (1-904-632-0600).