COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - United Way Chattahoochee Valley will be launching their new 211 call service on Monday. Scott Ferguson, the president and CEO of the nonprofit organization says the service had been gone for about seven years. However, United Way Chattahoochee Valley recently partnered up with the call center in Atlanta to bring the service back for this year.
"I think there is a constant need to have that one central place to get information," Ferguson explained. "We expect the new 211 service to receive about 1,000 calls per month once it kicks off. I think we will get about 10,000 to 15,000 calls a year once we get the service up and running."
Ferguson explained certified operators who speak multiple languages will provide free information and services for 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
"The certified operators will know how to ask you those important questions to better assist your need," Ferguson explained. "The callers are in Atlanta, and Atlanta actually invented 211. They are the pioneers of this service. The operators will ask for your zip code so they know exactly where you are to help you get in touch with the closest agencies and resources."
Ferguson said people can call 211 to get all the answers and help they need, instead of calling multiple agencies to seek help for their different needs.
"Newcomers can call 211 to learn more about the area," Ferguson said. "Or maybe you need first responders or emergency management personnel to handle crisis situations. Or you may want to know where the closest food bank, shelter or child care centers are. Whatever help and information you may need, the operators can help you. The data base will always be current and up-to-date to assist all our local users."
United Way Chattahoochee Valley's 211 service is available for those in the Chattahoochee Valley as well as Alabama. Ferguson says the organization is lucky to have two local private foundations to fund the service for the first two years. After the two years, United Way Chattahoochee Valley will fund the service.
"You can get service via your cell phone, land line, and computer," Ferguson said. "Or operators can even text you the answers. People are looking for short, easy and accurate ways to get information and help. 211 can answer all questions and help you get quality child care, help with your utility bills and meet your other needs as well."
Ferguson also says people can visit the website to learn more about the new 211 service unique to our area. He also says people can volunteer at United Way Chattahoochee Valley or find ways to get involved in the community also by visiting its website.
"The purpose behind 211 is sometimes people just don't know who to call to get the help they need," Ferguson explained. "People don't have to make multiple calls anymore. You can dial three simple numbers to get all the help you need. We all need help sometimes. I don't care who you are, what your social status is, what your economic status is…information is key and we all need help sometimes."