United Way of the Plains has accepted a generous grant from Evergy’s Community Impact Program to help fund the organization’s 211 Information and Referral Service. The funding will help cover some of the costs associated with providing the free, confidential service that is available 24/7 to connect individuals with a wide range of human social services and resources across the state. Individuals in need of assistance can call 2-1-1, text their ZIP code to 898-211, visit 211kansas.org or utilize live chat at unitedwayplains.org/211 to reach the service.
Staff specialists handled more than 164,883 calls in 2020, from people needing help related to the pandemic, unemployment and other basic human needs. Every contact represents an opportunity to improve the lives of vulnerable individuals in social or economic crisis and to strengthen the overall community. A database of more than 4,000 state-wide organizational partners is used to connect people with community clinics, food pantries, mental health support, housing assistance and much more. Call data history confirms that the highest volume comes from many of the most impoverished ZIP codes, including the poorest in Kansas, 67214 at 32.9% poverty as well as 67218 at 20.5% poverty. Both of these ZIP codes are located within Wichita.
Heather Pierce, 211 Coordinator, helped initiate the program sixteen years ago. “We’re helping some of the most vulnerable people in the community receive the support and access to the services they need. Our partnerships with nonprofits helps us connect individuals and families with the critical services they need when they are working through crisis situations, like the loss of a job or home.”
Director of Community Services for United Way, Mark Stump, said that another important benefit of the 211 Information and Referral service is that it relieves pressure from other city service communication lines, like 9-1-1. Stump said, “We became the one-stop shop for coronavirus-related questions during the pandemic and we were a resource for people who needed answers. Our call volume has remained high in 2021, and we appreciate Evergy’s commitment to ensuring this service remains available to those in need.”
211 services is available at no charge to all Kansans. United Way of the Plains covers 98 counties in Kansas through our call center. The remaining seven counties are covered by the United Way of Greater Kansas City. Translation services are available for non-English calls. Learn more by following this link.