United Way unveils new and improved 211 help number
In 2006, a phone center was established to answer calls from those in San Bernardino County needing anything from housing to healthcare, from dental to disaster services.
The concept was simple: Provide an easy-to-remember phone number that can be utilized day or night to connect those in need with a variety of community resources throughout the region.
The 211 phone number was established by United Way at that time and has been available ever since. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, caring Community Resource Advisers answer calls from single mothers, unemployed fathers, at-risk teens, individuals in crisis, families needing counseling, and everyone in between.
But the world has changed over the last 11 years. Not only has the availability of mobile phones increased exponentially, but we now use those devices for many functions other than calls. With that came a major shift in how most of us seek and access information.
As a result, 211 San Bernardino County’s website usage has increased substantially. Even as the 211 call center has continued to answer more than 65,000 calls annually, visits to the website increased 94 percent between 2013 and 2016. In the past year, 163,000 searches were completed by visitors seeking community resources on 211sb.org.
To better meet this need, 211 San Bernardino has just launched an all new, mobile-responsive website. Built to be equally useful on a desktop, laptop, tablet or phone, the new site makes searching for resources much easier, offering key search buttons that align with most commonly needed community resources. Food, housing, mental health, transportation, substance abuse and education are a few of the first options easily accessible.
“Information is everywhere. We are bombarded with it. But accurate, verified information is not so readily available,” said Gary Madden, director of 211 San Bernardino County. “What excites me is how easy the new 211 website is to navigate. We analyzed what people were asking for over the past year and optimized this web tool for those very services.”
Helpful search suggestions begin with simple statements like, “I’m looking for a job,” “I need to see a doctor” and “I’m having trouble with my bills.” After choosing a category, visitors enter their zip code to view a list of resource options near their location.
The entire website connects to the master 211 database and provides the same resources available by calling the 211 call center.
The new website also has specialized pages for veterans, maternal health, homelessness and healthcare. Resources specific to veterans include a transportation planner, medical assistance, disability benefits, employment and education and home purchase assistance.
A community calendar is currently being developed to list upcoming events, workshops and resource fairs throughout San Bernardino County. This tool will allow community organizations to add events, providing easy access to an array of parenting classes, healthy city activities and job fairs.
For those who enjoy statistics, a reports section includes data compiled from the 211 call center and website. Metrics include caller needs, resources provided and caller data by city, age, gender, language, household size and income sources.
If you or someone you know is in a time of need, visit the 211 website at www.211SB.org. If additional assistance is needed, dial 211 toll-free from any telephone to reach a United Way 211 Community Resource Adviser.
For Immediate Release
May 2, 2017
Contact: Laurel Eriksen
Inland Empire United Way
9644 Hermosa Avenue
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
New 211 Website Provides Help Anytime, Anywhere
Rancho Cucamonga, CA –Inland Empire United Way (IEUW) is pleased to announce the launch of the new 211 website at 211sb.org. The new website is designed to serve as a tool for helping San Bernardino County residents in need connect with the food, shelter, healthcare, and social services resources needed to get back on their feet. Optimized for mobile devices, the website makes it easy to connect to resources no matter what device is used to conduct the search.
The new website is set up to make it easy to find the free and low-cost resources that residents are searching for. United Way’s 211 analyzed the more than 110,000 website search requests from the previous year to discover users’ search patterns and priorities. Clearly defined categories and sub-categories were developed based on what people searched. The database contains more than 1,100 agencies with more than 3,000 verified programs that cover topics from prenatal care, to substance abuse, to recovery assistance, to volunteer opportunities. There is also a new section with special emphasis on meeting the needs of children and families.
Community Calendar is an entirely new section of the website. It is a county-wide event calendar, filtered by category, where an agency is able to post and publicize their community events.
“This new website is light-years ahead of anything we’ve been able to put together before,” said Gary Madden, Director of 211. “In addition to the 24 hour call center run by highly trained, specialized staff, county residents now have access to an easy-to-use online database of verified information about who can help when they don’t know where to turn.”
The new website can be explored at www.211sb.org.
Inland Empire United Way is committed to improving the lives and futures of children and families in need by investing in Education, Health, and Financial Stability. We are proud that contributions given local, stay local and an impressive 88% of every dollar is invested in direct program activities. By partnering with a network of local nonprofit organizations, United Way delivers critical services to our community, connects individuals in crisis with needed resources through 2-1-1, and increases the power of local charities by providing dedicated volunteers.www.ieuw.org
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