7 Reasons You Should Use 211

In a crisis, in a disaster, in a pandemic, 211 is here to help every person in our community. From finding food and paying for housing and bills to connecting to other essential services, 211 is there.

Did you know that 211, available all over the United States and locally operated by First Call for Help, is a critical part of United Way’s fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community? By supporting First Call for Help/211, we’re helping to ensure that help is always there for anyone who needs it.

Here’s why you should use this vital service—and let others know about it, too.

1. 211 provides connections to many kinds of resources and services, including:

  • Crisis and emergency counseling for mental health concerns, domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking
  • Disaster assistance
  • Food
  • Financial assistance, literacy, and coaching
  • Health care and insurance assistance
  • Stable housing and utility payment assistance
  • Unemployment services
  • Veteran services
  • Child care and family services

2. 211 specialists are amazing listeners! 211 does more than “patch people through” to agencies. Instead, when someone has a crisis they can reach a real person, a caring expert who offers comfort, hope, and solutions – from the first hello to the final connection to help.

3. 211 is simple and convenient to use. The service is free, confidential, and accessible 24/7/365.

4. There’s more than one way to use 211. You can dial 2-1-1 on your phone and speak to a trained 211 specialist, text your zip code to 898-211*, or chat and browse local resources online at firstcall211.net.

5. 211 tackles problems at the roots. In fact, 211 specialists are trained to identify and address the underlying root causes of a client’s problem – and connect them with a wide range of available resources that meet all their underlying needs, not just the one that prompted the call, text, or email.

6. 211 helps millions of Americans each year, many of them just like you. In 2020, 211 made 25 million referrals and connections. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, calls averaged 50,000 per day, nearly triple the rate from the previous year. 211 is available to help anyone, no matter their situation, income level, or their gender, age, race, religion, or sexual orientation.

7. 211 responds to new needs with innovative services. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the need to change the way many services operated – including community resources that provide food and other essential supplies.

Learn more and get help by visiting uwlakes.org/find-help. You can play your part by sharing this information with as many people as possible – through social media, word-of-mouth, and more – so everyone knows where to turn for help.


Would you like to do your part to ensure that help will always be here for Itasca-area residents in need? Text LAKES to 26989 to donate to the 211 Fund today. All gifts made between February 11th and February 25th will support First Call for Help’s work to provide assistance and connect resources to people in crisis.