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Helpline system usage increases by 53% at United Way of Greater Toledo in 2021

As the pandemic continues to change the needs in the community, the United Way of Greater Toledo is shifting to meet those needs.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The needs of people in the community have shifted during the pandemic and the United Way of Greater Toledo is following along with those changes.

To celebrate 2-1-1 Day on Friday, the organization is reflecting on what it's accomplished the past year, specifically through the 2-1-1 system.

With a quick dial of 2-1-1 right on your phone, you have access to just about any resource that you might need right here within the area.

"We traditionally see our top needs are housing, food assistance, utility assistance," said VP of impact and outreach, Jill Bunge. "Those really core, basic need services."

Bunge said the United Way of Greater Toledo has also engaged in special projects during the pandemic that has significantly increased the call volume into the 2-1-1 system. 

Just last year alone, they saw a 53% increase with more than 100,000 different contacts through either calls, texts or visiting the online database.

"So [we] really rose to the occasion right away with school meal reservations when school shut down. Obviously, we were very heavily involved in the vaccination efforts at the beginning of 2021," she said. "We've seen a dramatic increase in housing needs over the course of the summer and fall."

There are 2,500 different programs and 800 agencies you have direct access to within the 2-1-1 system. 

Bunge said it not only helps out people in the community, but it also allows providers to get connected to the people they're intending to serve. 

As an added benefit, the United Way is able to keep track of the community's needs.

"Then we can also better understand what needs are not being met," Bunge said. "That really helps us report that information back out so that we can better respond and rally together as a community to make sure folks have solutions to their issues."

2-1-1 is available 24/7. Bunge explained the service will continue to evolve as needs in the community shift.

You can dial or text 2-1-1 on your phone or use the United Way's online help center to be connected with the resources you need.

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