Last year, Wichita’s 2-1-1 line call specialists grew from 50,000 calls in 2019 to 122,844 calls in 2020.
In the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, more Kansas residents than ever needed access to information and services that only months ago seemed far removed from their lives.
“A lot of people were unemployed and couldn’t reach the unemployment line (of the Kansas Department of Labor). In the meantime, they had groceries to buy and rent and utilities to pay, ”said Heather Pierce, call center coordinator for the United Way of the Plains in Wichita.
The organization’s 2-1-1 is a free, confidential referral and information hotline and website that connects people of all ages and from all communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the essential health and personal services that they need need. 2-1-1 can be accessed by phone or computer.
Ellsworth County residents have always had access to the statewide helpline, but more information on local resources is available starting today (Thursday, March 11).
The additional information was provided by #BecauseWeCare, an informal group of local individuals, businesses and organizations that meet at virtually noon on Thursdays to discuss the needs of Ellsworth County’s residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
Participant Anita Hoffhines, working with Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce Director Tami McGreevy and Ellsworth County Medical Center, took the lead by reaching out to 2-1-1 representatives and updating Ellsworth County’s information.
On the site, resources are broken down by categories: food, shelter and shelter, financial assistance, mental health, and addiction …
Select a zip code and the services from that area will be displayed at the top of the page For example, family support lists the Ellsworth Child Care and Learning Center and the local health department as places where information can be obtained. Resources are also listed in other cities in Ellsworth County.
Or pick up your cell phone.
The Wichita center has seven employees who answer calls from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Calls received after these hours are made to a 24-hour aid center in Kansas City.
Pierce said most of the questions last year concerned COVID – symptoms first, tests then, and now vaccines. Other topics in order of importance were utilities, rent, tax preparation, and pantries.