As of today residents of Sangamon and Menard counties have a new number to call when they’re hoping to find information about everything from bill payments, to food pantries, to rental assistance and shelter. Rachel Otwell explains:
[sound of phone call…]
Karen Zangerle has just dialed 2 -1-1. She’s posing as a woman who is having trouble making ends meet. She says she can barely afford food for her two teenage sons. And she pretends her husband has lost his job.The person on the other end of the phone directs her to local food pantries and tells her he’ll email information about unemployment for her husband.
Zangerle works for the PATH crisis center in Bloomington. That’s where the call center for the 2-1-1 service is located. United Way of Central Illinois is investing $30,000 to make the service available to Sangamon and Menard county residents.
The service will be free and accessible 24 hours a day. Zangerlee points out that often calls made to 9-1-1 are non-emergencies, and that’s where the 2-1-1 number will be able to come in. Over 80 percent of the country already has a similar resource.