United Way of Summit & Medina celebrates 211 Day

Feb 9, 2024

Regional 211 Helpline serves 8 counties, helps those in need and provides rich data

On Sunday, February 11, United Way of Summit & Medina will celebrate National 211 day. The day recognizes the impact of 211 services, which offer people in need a place to turn to for help. Free, confidential and available all day, every day, 211 has information on thousands of services for residents, including supplemental food and nutrition programs, prenatal care, transportation, mental health services and more.

211 is available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, simply by dialing 2-1-1. Assistance is also available via text – simply text your zip code to 898-211. Interpretation services are also available.

“We see every call or text to 211 as an opportunity to transform a life,” said Brittany O’Neil, director of 211 at United Way of Summit & Medina. “While someone may dial 2-1-1 for a specific need, as our staff talks to them and gets to know their situation, they’ll start to identify other ways we can connect them to help. A request for housing assistance can be just the start, with clients getting connected to nutrition assistance, free financial coaching through the Akron Financial Empowerment Center and more.”

In addition to connecting residents to supportive services throughout the community, United Way of Summit & Medina also serves as a regional hub for 211 services. Beyond Summit and Medina counties, United Way of Summit & Medina provides 211 services for six other counties: Portage, Lorain, Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson and Tuscarawas.

In 2023, United Way of Summit & Medina’s 211 program answered 106,393 calls, 232,306 online searches and 2,317 texts/emails for help. Free and confidential, 211 has information on more than 11,000 services and 1,238 agencies for residents.

With access to real time regional data, 211 can also act as an early warning system for burgeoning problems in our communities. Most COVID-related funding for housing and evictions ended in late 2022/early 2023. Concurrently, in Summit & Medina Counties, web searches went up 54% and unmet needs more than doubled. This shift in data shows the continued need for housing assistance and affordable housing options. United Way of Summit & Medina continues to proactively work with the Continuum of Care, government partners and other local organizations to stave off and reverse further increases in evictions and homelessness.

Similarly, as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) pandemic assistance subsided, United Way of Summit & Medina’s 211 team, the Akron Canton Regional Foodbank and local pantries all worked together to establish an online self-service scheduling option for food pantries, in order to best respond to the quickly growing number of calls.

On a national scale, we also see the power of the 211 network. Months before the 2022 baby formula shortage drew congressional attention, operators at the nation’s 211 social service hotlines noticed an uptick in low-income parents pleading for help feeding their infants. A decade earlier, before the mortgage crisis crippled the country’s largest banks, 211 hotlines were jammed with people unable to make house payments.

211 is an essential tool for addressing and solving urgent needs at the local level. Call takers are often the first to support those in need and also serve as our community’s “alarm ringers” when the first signs of rising needs emerge. To learn more or show your support, visit uwsummitmedina.org/services/211.

In our community. With our community. For our community.

Invest where it matters

Your donation directly benefits the people of Summit & Medina counties.

Share This