211 service to launch in Shelby County

Staff report

SIDNEY — A new service for Shelby County residents will be launched with new year.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, the 211 service will be available to all residents of Shelby County. The 211 is an easy to remember three-digit telephone number assigned by the Federal Communications Commission for the purpose of providing quick and easy access to information about health and human services.

The 211 information and referral hotline will be answered 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. The hotline will connect residents to available community resources. The trained operators will be able to provide callers with phone numbers, hours of operation and qualifications for various programs available for such diverse programs as counseling, food assistance and utility assistance.

“Bringing 211 to Shelby County will provide immediate answers and options to residents looking for counseling services, assistance with rent and utility bills, food pantry and hot meal options,” Shelby County United Way Executive Director Scott Barr said. “The operators will also be able to answer questions on services for victims of crime including domestic violence and a host of other social service topics. The call is completely confidential and no personal information is shared.

“Our funding partner will include quarterly reports detailing the number of calls and the primary reason for the call,” Barr said. “This data will better help the United Way and community leaders understand the pressing needs and issues facing our residents.”

Helpline of Delaware and Morrow Counties Inc. has been contracted to provide 211 service for Shelby County. Helpline of Delaware and Morrow Counties Inc. is a crisis trained call center that currently provides 211 service for Delaware, Logan, Morrow and Union Counties. Founded in 1970, it has provided local, toll-free crisis support and information referral services for more than four decades.

In addition to the Shelby County United Way, funding partners for the new 211 system include the city of Sidney, Shelby County Commissioners, the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department, Shelby County Job and Family Services, Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities and the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services.

“We are delighted that Shelby County United Way has spearheaded the effort to bring 211 service to our extended community,” Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst said. “We have a tremendous number of religious, non-profit, quasi-governmental and governmental organizations that offer an array of services to those in need. 211 offers those organizations as well as those seeking assistance a critical immediate assistance road map year round – 24 hours a day – 7 days a week. We look forward to the implementation of 211 service.”

“Shelby County is fortunate to have so many people and organizations that care,” Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst said. “Having a comprehensive listing of programs and a live person to answer the phone when someone needs help is invaluable for the community.”

Residents with a land line or a cell phone number issued by a Shelby County cellular phone dealer can simply dial 211. Residents whose cell number was issued outside of Shelby County can contact the call center toll free at 855-663-8333.

As part of the contract with Helpline of Delaware and Morrow Counties Inc., a website for community service providers will also be maintained and updated annually. Those needing additional information about 211 service should contact Scott Barr at the offices of Shelby County United Way by phone, 937-492-2101, or by email, sbarr@shelbycounitedway.org.


Staff report