2-1-1 offers help to South Georgians - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

2-1-1 offers help to South Georgians

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February 11, 2008

Albany -- Most South Georgians can now call 2-1-1 for help in times of need. 13 counties in South Georgia are now serviced by the Albany 2-1-1 Association, which is run by United Way.

It helps people in need find non-profit agencies that offer the assistance they are looking for. Salvation Army workers have emergency food, and rent and utility payments to help people in need, and now 2-1-1 is helping connect those people with the Salvation Army, and the nearly 500 non profit assistance agencies in Albany. 2-1-1 Specialist Alisha Jackson said "sometimes when people need help, they don't know who to call."

2-1-1 was started nationally by United Way 11 years ago, and now it is operating in 13 counties in South Georgia. People who need assistance can find the help by calling the three numbers. United Way of Southwest Georgia President Dwayne Myles said "for rental assistance, housing needs, child care services. Things of that nature we can refer them to the right services."

 The 2-1-1 Database will have trained people to keep track of the assistance, explaining qualifications, preventing fraud and offering more long term help. Jackson said "with a trained specialist they can dig a little bit deeper, and help them get the services they need across the board."

With 2-1-1 doing the pre-screening of assistance calls, the non profits can concentrate more on the services they provide.  Myles said "it will be a great tool for our churches in town, so they won't have an overflow of calls."

 2-1-1 is available in 65 percent of the country, and 90 counties in Georgia. United Way is working with legislatures to make 2-1-1 a nationwide service, so that people in need can make one call to find the emergency assistance to help. And the Salvation Army says there are many people in South Georgia in need, who could use this service to find help that is available.

The 2-1-1 Service in South Georgia is manned from 8:30 to 5 Monday through Friday, but they are working to make it a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week service.

 Some South Georgia counties like Crisp and Sumter are not set up for 2-1-1 calls yet, but United Way is working to include them soon.

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