Help Starts Here
I you’re looking for the answers on who’ll win the Republican Primary or when housing prices will rebound or which stock to buy in 2012, the Dial 211 Riverside County folks might now have the answer. But for information on counseling, child care services, senior services, employment opportunities, health care needs and more than 3,000 other programs, they either have the answer or can put you in touch with those that do.
Founded in 2005, the Community Connect (211) mission is to connect people in need with those that can help. Community Connect has actually been around since 1966 working to create safe and healthy communities. They act as a clearing house between a large group of non-profit agencies that provide services and those who need those services but may not know they exist or where to get information on them. The 211 24 hour helpline came into being in 2005 as a way to increase that outreach.
Serving all areas of Riverside County, in the past year 211 Connect has helped more than 108,000 individuals and provided hundreds of non-profits with additional development opportunities. This included nearly 77,000 residents with critical needs in housing, food and medical services, 8,000 crisis/suicide prevention calls, 7,500 visits to senior care facilities and nearly 11,000 bus tickets to help people get to job interviews, work or even to the grocery store.
“Calls for services are up 20% over last year,” according to Craig Redelsperger, program directorof 211 Riverside County. “We’re seeing more people calling in who are totally lost, tired of playing phone run-around trying to find answers and are in desperate need of multiple services. For example, someone who is homeless may need immediate assistance with shelter, food and clothing. Once those critical needs are met, they may need further assistance finding job opportunities, dealing with substance abuse issues, arranging transportation to interviews, doctor appointments and so forth. Our counselors are trained to find as much information as they can about the caller so we can be a one-stop call for all their needs and recommend local service providers right in their area.”
But Redelsperger went on to point out that 211 Connect is not just for callers in trouble. “A misconception about 211 Riverside County is that it’s only a resource for only individuals in need or on the street. In fact, 211 is used by caseworkers, employers, counselors, and by city & county employees to find resources for themselves, clients, friends and family. Anyone can dial 211 to get referral information from our large database of non-profit services. For instance, an employer might need a counselor for an employee through their Employee Assistance Program. The employer can call 211 and locate a qualified counselor close to the employee's home or place of business," he said.
"All we hope is that everyone in Riverside County knows we're available to help them find help when they need it, and that any non-profit that would like to register with the 211 Resource Database gets in touch with us. We're the middle man, a clearing house you could say, between hundreds of non-profit organizations and thousands of programs that have services to offer to those in need.”
Community Connect is funded through a variety of local, state and federal grants, the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) and the United Way of Inland Empire, United Way of the Desert and United Way of Corona/Norco. 211 Riverside County is available to callers without cost at any time by phone simply by dialing 2 1 1. For more information on their services, including how to register your non-profit with Community Connect, visit: http://www.connectriverside.org/