In celebration of 2-1-1 Day, we sat down with Sherri Vainavicz, director of 2-1-1 at Heart of West Michigan United Way, for a quick Q&A.
When did our 2-1-1 launch in our community and how many calls have you answered since it started?
We launched 2-1-1 in 2002, and since then, we have answered nearly ONE MILLION requests. Every day, hundreds of people call, text, and use our live chat to find and access food, housing, financial coaching, job training, disaster resources and more.
How many calls did our 2-1-1 answer in 2017? What were the top three issues?
Our 211 answered 60,091 requests for help last year. We connect people to nearly 3,000 services in Kent County, like food, disaster recovery, childcare, transportation, and more, but the top 3 needs continue to be assistance with housing, utilities, and taxes.
Do you have any recent calls that have stuck out in your mind?
A man called because he was in foreclosure. We learned he was a disabled veteran with a head injury that prevented him from getting assistance and had never filed for VA benefits. 2-1-1 was able to get him help with his past due mortgage payments and signed up for VA benefits to help him maintain his housing.
How have we reached out to elected officials in support of 2-1-1?
Michigan has 2-1-1 Legislative Day every year at our capital in Lansing. All of our local centers attend and distribute information on how 2-1-1 helps build healthy, safe communities. This year it is being held on February 20.
How did 2-1-1 help respond to national disasters in 2017?
Our 2-1-1 center stepped up to take calls and text messages for Miami 211 during Hurricane Irma.
Who are some of our key partners?
Consumers Energy, State of Michigan, Area Agency. We receive additional funding through a Senior Millage and COC for housing.
Whoever you are, wherever life takes you, whatever your needs, 2-1-1 makes it easy to find help for yourself, a neighbor, or a loved one. Learn more or get help at www.hwmuw.org/211.