With the average caller being between ages 20 and 40, 2-1-1 Texas is an important service that students could utilize for resources.
Annual 2-1-1 Day takes place on Feb. 11 to raise awareness about 2-1-1 Texas, the free, state-wide 24-hour hotline that connects Texans to community resources in their area. By dialing 2-1-1, callers can receive information about the community and social services such as food pantries, housing assistance, health clinics and senior services in 250 languages including hearing-impaired accommodations.
United Way of the Brazos Valley’s 2-1-1 Texas program services Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, Leon, Madison, Robertson and Washington county. Resources that 2-1-1 Texas helps callers with are housing, employment, food, crisis, veteran, income, legal, criminal justice, aging, disability, physical and mental health, child care and education.
This year’s 2-1-1 Day can be celebrated by participating in a contest drawing with prizes donated by local agencies. Prizes include a free tour and tasting from Messina Hoff and an hour and a half of bowling with up to five pairs of shoes from Grand Station Entertainment. Students and community members can enter the contest here. They will be drawing for six prizes on Feb. 11.
Kat Gammon, the communications & outreach manager at United Way of the Brazos Valley, said the 2-1-1 Texas assistance helps callers find the root of their need even if they aren’t sure of the help they needed when they first call 2-1-1. It’s important that people know what to expect, especially when they’re already in a crisis, Gammon said.
“We do our best to listen to each situation individually, find the best resources for that situation, and then walk them through what's gonna happen after they hang up the phone with us,” Gammon said.
Resources that callers are directed to are largely comprised of state agencies, faith-based agencies and nonprofits, Gammon said. In the past, 2-1-1 Texas has been able to help with disaster response by directing callers to shelter and to locations where they can replace important documents and act as rumor control of false information that may be circulating, she said.
“We send [quarterly and annual reports] out to local and the elected officials of the Brazos Valley, so as the state officials they can see what their constituents need,” Gammon said. “So they can see ‘ok there's a lot of my constituents needing assistance for this, that and the other’ so that they can then, by knowing what’s happening in their community, can look into policy or changes that are needed to help with that.”
Resource and Project Coordinator Mickal Lewis maintains an accurate and current database of the resources available to callers. Calling 2-1-1 is more effective and efficient than using search engines, and the assistance at 2-1-1 listens and encourages callers to ask for help, Lewis said.
“We want them to feel confident so that once they hang up with us, they know they can either call us back as well as feel confident enough to ask for assistance,” Lewis said.