211 Utah provides Utahns with ways to get and give help. Information Specialists connect people, whether by call, text, message, or through its app, to the resources and services so individuals can be informed, connected, and empowered in their lives.
Building connections and partnerships are at the core of 211’s mission. So, we asked several members of the 211 Steering Council to share why 211 has been important to them, their work, and to our state.
Here is what they had to say:
Diena Simmons, Board member at United Way of Utah County:
“Years ago, when I was a young single mother with limited resources, I was a 211 client. Someone told me about it, and I saw the value from that initial experience. I didn’t know who to call, I was new to Utah I didn’t know much. It was a great blessing to connect me to some services to help my small family during a really hard time. And we were like so many families who just need that help and then we got on our feet.
I think the big stand out thing about 211 is the depth of caring. People are in this because their hearts are in it and they want to do good. The people who need help, they are competent, they just don’t know where to go. We see that so much where there are great services not being utilized as much as they should and people in need and not know where to turn. And 211 brings those things together.”
Chris Christiansen, Bank of America:
“Our communities thrive when the basic needs of the citizens are met. If / when someone finds themselves in a situation where they’re in need of social services, having that lifeline (like 211) is so critical.
I feel it’s an obligation and a great opportunity to help those in need. Also, I feel that 211 provides such a unique service – a social services concierge – to so many service providers throughout the state.”
Anna Fondario, Violence and Injury Prevention Program at the Utah Department of Health:
“In my work in violence and injury we do a lot of with opioid outreach across the state, we found that we had a lot of community members that need services or help finding services for their loved ones. Typically, they’re looking for info on naloxone, what kind of treatment is needed, what insurance covers that treatment, if they need outpatient or inpatient services. It’s very overwhelming.
We felt there was a gap in being able to have someone help navigate a complicated system for them. We thought it’d be a great opportunity to connect with 211 because they have a great reputation and great ties in the community to connect individuals to the services that they need.
Our community members have said they feel good knowing there is somewhere they can call to get connected to the services that they need. Those frustrations with finding those resources haven’t necessarily been completely alleviated but it has helped significantly.”
Christy Allen, Utah Transit Authority:
“The Coordinated Mobility Department at UTA realizes there is a transportation need for many of our citizens—particularly those with disabilities and seniors. We realize many from these communities reach out to 211 and often do not have a way to get to the services they need.
We are working with 211 to bridge this gap and improve the quality of life for those individuals.
(We’re) invested in 211 because of the work they do on behalf of the most vulnerable citizens in our state. 211 is transparent about its activities and expenditures which has built a reputation of trust for the organization.
211 is collaborative with their partners which stretches and broadens their impact in the community.”
Andrea Wallace, University of Utah College of Nursing:
“We saw a lot of potential (in partnering with 211 Utah) of what we can do to make connections with our health systems to track data and better help our patients.
Currently, our registration staff in the emergency department routinely screens patients for social needs. As patients get registered, we ask if there are barriers to getting their health needs met. They answer 10 questions, they let us know if they want someone to follow up with them about meeting those needs better and someone from 211 gets in touch with them.
211 is the keystone to so much here. The years spent cultivating its resource database and building those partnerships — it’s really the start of everything.”
Patrice Dickson, Utah Community Action:
“211 provides a vital service, connecting individuals and families to the appropriate needed resources in a single, comprehensive database.
Utah Community Action provides services to low-income clients through six programs: Head Start, Adult Education, Case Management and Housing, HEAT, Weatherization and Nutrition including food pantries. Utah Community Action collaborated with 211 in providing information and referrals for homeless individuals. In 2019, Utah Community Action started a coordinated intake phone line for homeless services, including live bed location. 211 collaborated with UCA to streamline access so homeless individuals are directed to the coordinated intake line at UCA or to other 211 services to ensure clients receive the best information possible.”
To learn more about 211 or to receive assistance from 211 information specialists, visit 211utah.org.
By Kelly Schmidt, Content Manager at United Way of Salt Lake