Feb 11, 2022 - News

On 211 Day, help is just a call away

Illustration of a phone with the wire in the shape of a heart.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

As the pandemic took hold, a Franklin County mother faced eviction when the restaurant she worked at closed. She knew she needed help.

  • She dialed 211 in desperation.
  • Within minutes, a social worker connected the family with a food pantry and rental assistance program supporting the local Hispanic community.

This is a real anecdote provided by by Lutheran Social Services 211 Central Ohio and it illustrates the services it provides to connect people with various local resources.

Driving the news: Today is recognized as "211 Day," an opportunity to highlight the free service available in many communities in Ohio and nationwide.

  • Formerly known as HandsOn, Lutheran Social Services 211 Central Ohio is staffed 24 hours a day to help guide residents to services like food and rent assistance or winter clothing help.

How it works: There are many ways those in need can reach out confidentially: calling 211, texting, via the website's chat or message feature, and through a mobile app.

What they're saying: 211 serves as a "gateway" to helping residents navigate the social services system, executive director Courtney Walker tells Axios, informing callers of all the paperwork and tools needed to access any service they're being guided to.

By the numbers: LSS fields hundreds of requests each day.

  • Walker says that figure can reach up to 13,000 per month during the busy holiday season.

State of play: With tax season underway, LSS keeps busy through its partnership with United Way to schedule free tax preparation help.

  • Then comes a high volume of calls during summer months to help with high utility costs, then another wave during back-to-school season to provide students with supplies and clothes.

Threat level: The need is constant, Walker says, especially over the past two years as residents have dealt with employment and housing issues along with health concerns.

  • Fortunately, many local agencies have access to more resources thanks to pandemic relief funding.
  • The challenge remains connecting residents to those services — the driving push for "211 Day."

Learn more about our local 211 service here.

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