Every year, United Ways across the world 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, United Way of Northeast Florida is highlighting United Way 211 team members all month long, sharing how their dedication is making a difference in the lives of families and individuals in our community.
Lavon Wilkerson will celebrate six years with United Way 211 Feb. 16. Recently promoted to the position of a follow-up counselor for United Way 211, Lavon answers calls from people reaching out for assistance for a variety of challenges, including financial assistance and crisis and lifeline calls.
“The thing I find most rewarding about my job is that I get to help people,” said Lavon. “Whether it’s through financial services or emotional support, I get to help.”
One of her most memorable calls was with a single mother who was a victim of domestic violence. The caller, also a United Way supporter, was living with a friend without electricity. The caller was having difficulty finding a place to stay on her own due to an eviction on her credit. With the help of Lavon and United Way 211, the caller was able to find help, and she received assistance with the rental deposit thanks to a United Way partner.
Lavon said her job at United Way 211 gives her a fresh perspective on life.
“I hear some heart-wrenching stories, and sometimes resources are not always available,” she said. “So I have become more appreciative and less judgmental. We get to place our personal needs aside for a moment and help someone else. That is what makes 211 great, in my opinion.”
Lavon believes United Way 211 has many positive effects on the community by being available for those in the most need, especially in tough times like the COVID-19 pandemic. She wishes more people knew United Way 211 can provide referrals to financial guidance initiatives, food pantries, clothing closets, community health clinics and mental health resources – and encourages you to help United Way spread the word.
Lavon encourages anyone in need of help to pick up the phone and make the call to United Way 211:
“We all find ourselves in a place where help is needed at times.”
To learn more about services and resources available through United Way 211, visit unitedwaynefl.org/get-help or dial 2-1-1 (904-632-0600).