Saturday, February 11, 2023

February 11 is 211 Day

211 graphic

Nine Things You Didn’t Know About 211

Everyone knows about 911, but fewer people know about 211, the number to call to find help with life’s challenges.

What kind of challenges? The kind of challenges everyone faces at some point in their lives, when you have no idea where to turn but sure could use some extra help.

In New York State, 211 is available 24/7 and provided by local non-profits and United Ways.

John Bernardi, President & CEO of United Way of the Adirondack Region, Inc., shared, “We are very pleased to be the lead agency for 211 information and referral in the Adirondack Region. Connecting people to the resources and support that they need is woven into the fabric of our organization and the 211 system provides an excellent and convenient venue for doing just that. There are thousands of examples where 211 has enabled people to avoid catastrophic circumstances and to instead, work toward the quality of life that all of us want and deserve.”

In addition to calling 211, you can now contact 211 by text. To start a conversation, text your zip code to 898-211.

211 is a vital service that connects millions of people each year to help in their communities. Here are 9 things you might not know about 211:

1. 211 can help with complex challenges, whatever they may be. 211 connects people to resources like:

          • Employment and job training
          • Health and mental health assistance
          • Child care and after-school programs
          • Financial coaching
          • Addiction treatment
          • Transportation
          • Affordable housing and rent assistance
          • Legal services
          • Disaster recovery
          • Utility assistance
          • Disability resources
          • Veteran services
          • Free tax preparation

2. 211 is for anyone. Everyone faces challenges. Job loss, illness, natural disasters and other events can upend anyone’s life. In those moments, 211 is a good resource to have in your back pocket. Best of all, the service is available to everyone, regardless of income level. Spread the word to your friends, family and co-workers so they are prepared when things take a turn for the worse.

3. You’ll talk to a real person. A trained, expert specialist answers the call, helps identify the root causes of your problem, and connects you to local resources.

4. 211 is available 24/7/365. That’s every day, every hour, every minute of the year. And if you don’t feel like calling, you can text or use the website. Check to find your local texting number and website.

5.  211 helps during disasters, during the recent Buffalo Blizzard, 211 WNY had a surge in calls from community members seeking help surviving the storm. 211 Specialists shared strategies on sheltering in place without heat until safe to access warming shelters, coordinated assistance with county emergency services, and connected volunteers available to those who needed help shoveling out after being trapped in their homes for 2 days.

6. Starting on Feb 11, 2023, 99% of the U.S. population has access to 211. Virtually all Canadians also have access to 211.

7. 211 helps tens of millions each year in the US. In 2022, 211s across NYS made over 2.6 million connections between people in need and local help.

8. Translation is available in 180+ languages, making the service more accessible.

9. 211 changes lives, like this caller from Clinton County: She called 211 very upset due to the shutoff notice she’d just received from the utility company. After years of working, she was now struggling to get by on Social Security Disability and afraid that her housemate would kick her out if she couldn’t pay the bill. Knowing she couldn’t afford to rent on her own, she called 211 for help. The 211 ADK Community Resource Specialist connected her with a Consumer Advocate to have her account flagged to prevent the shut off and get on a payment plan that she could manage.

Upon follow up, the 211 ADK Specialist found someone who was empowered, confident, and grateful; very different from the upset person who made the call to 211 for help that morning. Now she does not fear that she will be kicked out and become homeless.

Kelly Dodd is the director of 211 NY

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at


One Response

  1. Pat Boomhower says:

    This information needs to be shared on social media and local news. Few people are aware of it.

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