The Hotline You and Your Loved Ones Need To Know: CALL 2-1-1
BY CHRISTINE ROBERE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, UNITED WAY OF THE LAKESHORE
When you face an emergency, everyone knows that you call 911. We have been teaching our children for generations how to prepare for when there is an emergency and what to do if they are faced with one. If there is a fire, a crime that has taken place, or a life in danger, we know as a community to call 911.
But do you know who to call when you’re faced with a problem that is not a first responder emergency? Do you know who to call if you need food, shelter, rent or utility assistance? Who do you call when your mother retires and you need help navigating insurance programs? When your child needs an after-school program? Or when you find a classmate that you once knew as a child is now living on the street and you want to help, but have no idea where to start? The answer is simple, you call 2-1-1.
2-1-1 provides individuals and families in need with a shortcut through what can be a complicated maze of health and human service programs in your community. This hotline connects a network made up of seven regions so that no matter where you are in Michigan you can call 2-1-1 at any time, every day of the year, and be connected to the nearest resource that helps with the problem with which you are faced.
The Community Access Line of the Lakeshore (CALL 2-1-1), a United Way Funded Partner Agency, has been serving the lakeshore since 2005. In the last six months, 2-1-1 has connected 185,075 people statewide to resources, 7,938 of these calls were in Muskegon, Newaygo, and Oceana counties. To see a breakdown of 2-1-1 data and for more information, visit https://mi211.211counts.org/
Housing and Shelter. 24.6% of the Lakeshore help calls to 2-1-1 involved housing and shelter. One of the several resources listed with 2-1-1 is Community enCompass. Like CALL 2-1-1, Community enCompass is a United Way of the Lakeshore Funded Partner Agency that focuses on basic needs like housing. Their housing programs include facets of affordable housing (Bethany Housing), home rehab, eviction prevention, and housing first HARA. These programs make waves of impact for those in need. An example is Frank whose story Community enCompass shares below.
“Winter days are shorter and colder. For Frank, winter brings fear. For the roughly 2,400 homeless people like Frank in Muskegon County, winter is a time of hardship.
“Frank didn’t always live in his friend’s garage. After getting a qualification in accounting in the ‘80s, the financial market crashed, and Frank moved into Muskegon’s busy manufacturing industry. Similar to the financial market, the manufacturing market in the USA also crashed. Like the rest of Michigan, Muskegon’s manufacturing started to slow and shut down: Factories were closed; jobs moved overseas; thousands of people were slowly laid off. After nine years in his position, Frank was also reshuffled, and then, because his position was eliminated was let go from the company.
“Frank moved to manufacturing work with temporary work services. Despite continually being told that the company would be hiring full permanent positions soon, he was surprised to find himself unemployed again after the company decided to move their business overseas. This happened again, working with another temporary work services position.
“Frank moved on once more, doing landscaping and working for a cleaning agency until his landlord decided to sell off the property. ‘I stayed there for another three or four months doing odd jobs and helping out with plumbers and stuff, just to be an extra pair of hands’ Frank says. But when the work was complete, Frank had no place to go. It was winter and the cold, icy temperatures left Frank with one choice – The Rescue Mission. When the cold of winter had passed, Frank moved his life into a storage unit, and later a friend’s garage.
“When he started working with Community enCompass he was moving around every couple weeks and had his belongings scattered around other friend’s houses. Frank walks everywhere. He doesn’t drive, and couldn’t afford the cost even if he wanted to. Finding work has depended on his ability to travel, having to rely on his friends for transport if work was too far for him to walk.
“Frank was referred to Community enCompass and was working with our Community Health worker to help him navigate towards permanent housing. Frank entered one of our permanent supportive housing programs for chronic homeless individuals. Like the season, Frank’s still moving on. He has been stably housed for two years now with a Family Support Liaison walking alongside him. He actively volunteers in our community, giving back to the communities he relied on during his long season of homelessness.”
Thousands of people faced homelessness, the threat of eviction, utility shut-offs and more in just the last six months in our community. The connection to resources are just one call away, thanks to the 2-1-1 hotline. You can help support 2-1-1 and income stability programs (shown here) by donating to United Way of the Lakeshore (donate here), or volunteering in your community. You can find hundreds of volunteer opportunities through the Get Connected program from our volunteer center. You can also advocate by celebrating 2-1-1 day with United Way of the Lakeshore on February 11th.
On February 11, we salute the 2-1-1 system for connecting people across the lakeshore, Michigan and the United States to much-needed resources. Our families need an easy way to connect with a nonprofit, faith-based, and public resources to address their basic needs before their needs become costly emergencies. Whether you are a part of a community resource program or volunteer with a community resource please check with your program managers or CALL 2-1-1 to verify that these resources are up to date on their information. You can also share on social media CALL 2-1-1’s information.
You can reach 2-1-1 via phone, text or online at:
• Call 2-1-1 or 844-875-9211 (Muskegon direct line)
• Text your zip code to 898211
• Search or chat online at www.mi211.org
United Way of the Lakeshore is uniting to inspire change and build thriving communities. Our Bold Goal – 10,000 more working families meet their basic needs by 2025. For more information, contact United Way of the Lakeshore at (231) 722-3134. Learn more about United Way of the Lakeshore at UnitedWayLakeshore.org, like the organization on Facebook and receive up to date information from Twitter at twitter.com/uwlakeshore.