MEDINA — If people need help from law enforcement, they know to call 911.
If their cupboards are bare and they won’t get their check until the first of the month, they can call 211.
United Way of Medina County’s 211 First Call for Help has helped many in a moment of crisis. It’s the first line of defense in helping address the basic needs of the community and it is supported through donations.
As the needs of the community evolve and often become more complicated, United Way says the need for 211 increases.
“It works just like 911,” United Way of Medina County CEO Cheryl Parzych said. “You dial 211 and we have over 200 service providers in our database in Medina County.
“I think it’s a tremendous asset.”
Parzych said trained navigators will link callers with the right service provider.
“It’s like a social services emergency line,” she said.
Parzych said about 9,500 calls have been made to 211 services in the last four years in Medina County.
“That’s a lot,” she said.
The navigators will find out why the callers need help.
“Why is the family out of food?” she said. “They’ll ask those types of questions.”
Each call averages about seven minutes. Each call costs the agency about $15, she said.
“If you can get someone on the right course in seven or eight minutes, that’s a good investment,” Parzych said.
People in need can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, she said.
“They get a lot of traffic in the middle of the night,” Parzych said.
Instead of talking to a live person, callers also can chat online on United Way’s website, unitedwaymedina.org.
Housing, utility assistance and mental health support are the county’s primary needs.
The last three months of the year are 211’s busiest months, as people seek shelter from the cold and dangerous winter conditions in Ohio.
“It’s much more critical to get help as quickly as possible,” Parzych said.
United Way is running a fundraiser this week to help defray the costs of 211.
“Tuesday is Giving Tuesday,” Parzych said. “It’s a big national (campaign).”
To donate, visit HERE.