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Saturday, Feb. 11, designated 211 Day across North America

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Fri, Feb 10th 2017 04:40 pm

Focus is to raise awareness of valuable community resource for nonurgent issues

Saturday, Feb. 11, a date also read as 2-11, has been designated as 211 Day across North America to raise awareness of the free community resource for nonurgent issues via phone. The awareness campaign also aims to direct people away from the emergency 911 phone line in an effort to decrease the number of nonemergency calls and to free up valuable resources for those truly in need.

211 WNY is a free phone resource that provides an easy-to-remember way to connect residents with thousands of programs and services in Western New York that can help them stay healthy and engaged in the community. Many people looking for assistance don't always know where to start or what might be available, so calling 211 (or 888-696-9211) is a starting point to learn more about the types of help that may be available.

Once a call is placed by dialing 2-1-1, the caller will be connected to a trained information and referral specialist who is able to identify services in the community that can provide the caller with the help he needs. The free and confidential service provides information on available health and human services programs and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Michael Weiner, president and CEO of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, said, "The 211 WNY service offers a tremendous resource for local residents who may not know what services may be available to help them. Since they can talk to a trained specialist, they will be directed to organizations that can assist them quickly and easily. By raising awareness of this service, we hope to help more people and ensure that the 911 emergency line is freed up for truly emergency issues."

Kelly Dodd, director of 2-1-1WNY, said, "Although we answered more than 41,000 calls in 2016 from Western New Yorkers looking for help in their community, most people still don't know that 2-1-1 exists and is here to help them get connected to support or help in their community. We hope that raising awareness through 2-1-1 Day and other marketing efforts will encourage people to utilize this community hotline."

Information available through 2-1-1 includes basic needs, food assistance, free tax preparation, holiday assistance, housing, job training, legal counseling, mental health services, substance abuse services and volunteer opportunities.  211 WNY covers seven counties, including Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming. Allegany County is covered by 2-1-1 Finger Lakes.

For more information, visit www.211wny.org.

For more information on the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, visit www.uwbec.org.

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