STEUBENVILLE - The average caller to the Stark and Tuscarawas 211 call center is female and 30 years old.
Sherri McKinney-Frantz, director of211 and Government Relations of the United Way of Greater Stark County, said she anticipates similar callers when a 211 call system is in place next year in Jefferson County.
"But I have talked to children calling for help and 90-year-old women seeking a place to stay. I have also talked to 60-year-old men who were crying on the phone. And it doesn't matter. We are here to help everyone in need," said McKinney-Frantz.
Fifty-four of Ohio's 88 counties currently have a 211 program in place and operating.
McKinney-Frantz has worked in the Stark and Tuscarawas 211 call center for the past three years and is a strong advocate for the concept.
"Approximately 3,300 Ohioans dialed 211 every day last year looking for help in finding health and human services. The leading requests centered on food, shelter, clothing, rent and utility financial assistance," she said.
"Once a 211 program is established in Jefferson County, people will be able to call the simple three-digit number. A trained specialist will answer the call and ask for the caller's ZIP Code and age. That allows our specialist to immediately access the appropriate data base information. We then screen the caller to determine the proper agency to assist the caller," explained McKinney-Frantz.
According to McKinney-Frantz, the 211 program will provide immediate assistance in finding services such as physical and mental health resources through medical information lines, crisis intervention, support groups, counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, Medicaid/Medicare, maternal health and children's health insurance.
"We can also offer referrals for other issues including;
Employment support services such as unemployment benefits, financial assistance, job training, transportation assistance, education programs.
Support for seniors and persons with disabilities, home health care, adult day care, meal services, respite care, transportation, homemaker services.
Programs for children, youth, families childcare, after-school programs, Head Start, family resource centers, recreation programs, mentoring, tutoring, protective services.
Volunteer opportunities and donations.
Support for community crisis or disaster recovery.
"This is a program specifically designed to help people in need. We simplified the process allowing people to find the service suited for those needs. It is not uncommon for someone to call with a request and as the conversation continues they realize they have additional needs. We are able to connect them with the appropriate agencies. That is important when you are looking for help but aren't sure where to turn to," said McKinney-Frantz.