Posted by John Ester on Jul 23, 2019
Ranae McCauley, Executive Director of United Way of Northwest Michigan, educated us on the new 2-1-1 program launched in our region last September.
United Way of Northwest Michigan represents five counties (Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Leelanau), and its goal is to mobilize the caring power of its communities through giving, advocating and volunteering. The motto of its new 2-1-1 service is "Get Connected.  Get Answers."  The purpose of the program is to make available a fast, easy way to get connected with area companies and organizations offering social services-- just by dialing 211, texting 898211 or through the Michigan 2-1-1 website at https:www.mi211.0rg. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Those with life-threatening emergencies should call 911. But those needing help with food, housing or paying bills can use 211 to get connected with a local agency to get the specific help that is needed. Michigan 2-1-1 can connect the user with all sorts of nonprofit and goverment resources within the community. Typical areas of concern include:
  • Bill pay assistance
  • Children & families
  • Community services
  • Crisis services
  • Disaster Services
  • Education
  • Elderly & disabled individuals
  • Employment
  • Financial & tax assistance
  • Food
  • Healthcare
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Utilities
  • Veterans & military
 Currently there are 1,700 non-profits on the Michigan 2-1-1's data base, which is part of a national network. The organization's 2-1-1 cards are being given to students and to UPS drivers for distribution.
United Way's Michigan 2-1-1 program is part of its focus on those in our community falling within the poverty or ALICE levels--some  37% of the population in Benzie County. United Way makes a continuing effort to find out where its 211 services have been helpful (such as in the area of employment) and those areas where the results have been less satisfactory (as with respect to transportation).  Similarly, participating nonprofits are regularly contacted to be sure their contact information is up-to-date.