United Way of Greater Toledo’s 211 Week Celebrates Connection to Help for All

Special to The Truth

United Way of Greater Toledo will celebrate 211 Week beginning February 6 with educational programming, public awareness campaigns, and fundraising events culminating in 211 Day, Saturday, February 11 (2/11).

This is the local and national day of recognition for 211, a free information and referral service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Throughout 211 Week, United Way encourages area residents to learn more about the service and how it might help themselves, family and friends, neighbors, employees, and coworkers. Visit 211nwo.org to search the database, review 211 Counts data, download free guides, or connect with a Community Resource Advisor.

211 Week is made possible through the generous support of Presenting Sponsor, O-I, Venue Sponsor 5/3 Bank, and with support from Hollywood Casino, Block Communications, and Toledo-Detroit Outdoor.

211 is available nationwide and is funded and managed locally by United Way of Greater Toledo, covering Lucas, Ottawa, and Wood counties. 211 connects residents to vital health and human support services, including disaster relief, as well as eviction prevention, legal services, tax filing, employment opportunities, and access to food, clothing, shelter, and much more. The program’s skilled staff, Community Resource Advisers (CRAs), are the key to the service, trained to “ask the second question” to identify root issues. The 211 database offers translation services and includes access to more than 800 organizations and 2,300 programs.

“211 is here and it’s for everyone. It is an essential service in our community,” said Jill Bunge, Vice President, Impact & Outreach. “No matter where we live or work, we all see neighbors, employees, and customers go through hard times. We can’t plan for flooding or house fires, or an unexpected ambulance ride or car breakdown that takes from the grocery budget. No matter the issue, 211 is always there to connect to help and find creative solutions and resources.”

211, said Bunge, is the one operating program that United Way manages itself. “Our crowning jewel,” she said. “To connect people and resources in society is something we take a lot of pride in.”

211 has become an essential piece of public infrastructure to Northwest Ohio residents and has seen a dramatic uptick in contacts since the pandemic. Prior to 2020, annual contacts ranged from 62,000 to 68,000 annually. In 2021, that number increased to more than 104,000 as residents sought access to COVID-19 vaccines and other pandemic relief. In 2022, the program fielded nearly 80,000 contacts; over half of that call volume were housing, food, and utility assistance contacts as housing costs and inflation soared.

United Way employs 17 community resource advisors to help those in the community navigate data bases such as health and human services and social services on a daily basis. The agency also “takes on special projects,” noted Bunge, such as duties taken on during the height of the COVID pandemic to get callers with vaccine information.

“We take on new projects if other entities don’t have the capacity for,” she added.

“What makes United Way’s management of 211 unique is the way we are able to put the data to work. We know the needs of the community in real time and can make adjustments to funding and services to meet those needs,” said Wendy Pestrue, CEO, “Just as we did during the pandemic, where we were able to assess the best locations to get residents access to meals and vaccines, we remain prepared to adapt and be responsive during disasters. With record inflation and housing costs this year, 211 was such an important resource for many people who haven’t needed this kind of assistance before and were not sure where to go for help. 211 was there for them, to help keep groceries in the kitchen, find help with utility bills, and to keep them in their homes so their families were safe.”

Call for Facebook Fundraisers & 211 Virtual Scavenger Hunt
Monday, February 6, all day – Social Media/Website – Fundraisers: We’re asking our supporters to help support your 211 network by hosting a personal fundraiser on your Facebook page. All proceeds directly support 211. Learn how to create a nonprofit fundraiser on Facebook.

Scavenger Hunt: Learn more about 211 and available resources, and how to use the database.

Virtual Year-end Recap
Wednesday, February 8, 12:00pm-1:00pm – Facebook – The 211 team will provide an overview of 211 service and function — how to search the 211 database and review data on the 211 Counts dashboard — in addition to a look back at 2022 stats and accomplishments.

Toledo City Council 211 Day Proclamation
Tuesday, February 7, 4:00 p.m., One Government Center, Council Chambers, Toledo, OH – Toledo City Council Members Cerssandra McPherson, Vanice Williams, and Nick Komives recognize 211 Day with a proclamation in the City of Toledo.

211 For All Philanthropic Summit and Reception
Thursday, February 9, 5:30-7:30 p.m., One Seagate, Fifth-Third Headquarters Gallery and Auditorium, Toledo, OH – This by-invitation event is designed for corporate donors and community leaders and features a robust presentation on current work and future aspirations of the program.

211 For All is made possible by Presenting Sponsor, O-I, and with generous support from Venue Sponsor, 5/3 Bank

Happy Hour Fundraisers
Saturday, February 11, Various Locations and Times (see below) – On 211 Day, United Way is coming to YOU! Join us for casual fundraising events to learn about 211 and network with donors and volunteers. These events are great opportunities for community advocates, volunteers, young professionals, and those who appreciate a good time and a great cause.

*   Lucas County – 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
The Attic on Adams, 1701 Adams St., Toledo

*   Ottawa County – 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Twin Oast, 3630 NE Catawba Rd., Port Clinton

*   Wood County – 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Arlyn’s Good Beer, 520 Hankey Ave., Bowling Green