Phone number helping families find community services

The number 211 is one of the simplest ways to connect with community services you need, and one of the last states to adopt the program may need it the most.

If you dial 211 on your phone, it can connect you instantly to the community services you or your family may need.

Iva Dell Clay at United Way of Southern Illinois says Illinois is the second to last state to get the program, ahead of only Arkansas. She says it’s a good program that now covers most of the state, but most people don’t know it’s out there.

"211 isn’t an easily recognizable number in southern Illinois yet, but we’re working on it," said Clay.

Clay says people need it now more than ever. The longer the state’s budget impasse continues, the more calls come in.

"People are making that call more often because the agencies that they’ve depended on are getting funding cuts. So, the services they so desperately need aren’t as available as they have been in the past," Clay said.

That’s where groups like Crosswalk Community Agency come in. The agency helps people with utility payments and home weatherization, and they even offer a weekly food pantry. Food pantry Coordinator Jacob Wach says they’re seeing a steady increase of people needing their help every month.

"And even then, we’ve got it simplified down so much that people are still waiting in line outside. And they might be out there for an hour, an hour and a half," Wach said.

The 211 resource can connect hard-hit families who haven’t used Crosswalk before or help people find services when others are forced to shut down due to funding cuts.

‘It’s a lot more of your normal families: people who are just kind of down on their luck at the moment, you know, their hours have been cut," Wach said.

He says finding that help for families helps impact the community.

If you have an agency you want people to reach through 211, you need to register for it. To do that, click here. For more information, you can call United Way at 618-997-7744.

If 211 isn’t working on your phone, you can call 1-888-865-9903 for help. To make a 211 search online, click here.

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