211 Celebrates Third Birthday

By: Shannon Brinias Email
By: Shannon Brinias Email

When it first started up, many people wondered how 211 could become the go-to phone resource for people needing to be connected with programs, but since its birth three years ago, nearly 40,000 El Paso County families have received a helping hand.

When last winter’s blizzards left people struggling for what they needed to survive, access to transportation, food, health services and heat, the operators at 211 were there to answer the call.

"211 offered their services, a volunteer effort," said Patty Baxter with EMS.

211 is celebrating its third birthday, so Pikes Peak United Way, which oversees 211, opted to throw a get-together to highlight the successes.

More than 20,000 people have used 211 over the past year, an increase of 28 percent. That includes some of the hundreds of residents burned out of the castle west apartments.

“We take the burden off 911, by taking calls going to 911,” said Amy Dinofrio, a supervisor.

The growth is reflected too, by an ever-increasing pool of resources. The operators at 211 now can put their fingers on getting you in touch with 1,000 different programs.

“About 99.5 percent of the time, we help meet their need,” said Melody Reiner, a 211 operator.

211: just three little numbers that are dialing many El Paso County families into better ways of life.

The average 211 user is a single female with kids, making do on $7,500 a year, considerably below the federal poverty level of $19,000 a year.

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