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, 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.
Tressie joined United Way’s 211 team in October 2019. As a community resource specialist, she answers calls from Northeast Florida residents seeking assistance with things others might take for granted, such as food, clothing and medical care. She assists callers who are facing eviction, foreclosure and utility disconnections.
“The callers hope the specialists can provide resources to obstacles that are preventing them from surviving on a daily basis,” said Tressie.
Not only do 211 specialists offer resources to callers, they also offer emotional support. Often, callers reaching out to 211 feel helpless and might even have thoughts of harming themselves or others, Tressie said. Being in such a vulnerable position can be stressful, and 211 staff do their best to help them based on available community resources.
“The constant requirement to handle each call with care wears on you mentally,” she said.
While some calls are difficult, Tressie enjoys doing as much as she can to help people who call United Way 211.
“So many express appreciation for our efforts to help them, even if it was just making them laugh,” she said. “They make you smile on the inside and make you feel like you are truly making a difference.”
Tressie is appreciative herself of the positive effect her team has on her work experience with United Way 211 since she started in 2019.
“We are very fortunate to have a management team that truly cares about their team and makes sure we have time to focus on practicing self-care,” Tressie said.
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).