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For 15th anniversary, Virginia’s 2-1-1 looks toward expansion, innovation

Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 4:51 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - With the ability to connect people to food, housing and mental health resources, Virginia’s free call-in center is recognizing an important milestone this week with a commitment to service.

Virginia’s 2-1-1 service turns 15 February 11, 2021. Calling 2-1-1 puts Virginians in touch with someone who can refer them to social and financial resources, such as free food, rent assistance, transportation and just about anything in between.

Leaders with the Council of Community Services say call volume has surpassed some pre-COVID days by almost 300 percent. At the beginning of the pandemic, President Anne Marie Green told us it was almost closer to 500 percent.

In 2019, Virginia 2-1-1 took around 102,000 calls and made about 195,000 referrals. By comparison, over the last year they have received about 169,000 calls and made close to 231,000 referrals.

Green said Wednesday they have found ways to train and work remotely and react faster in emergencies.

“People have been pretty frantic during the pandemic and the call takers sometimes are almost like counselors,” she said. They calm people down and redirect them and figure out how to help them and answer their questions.”

To acknowledge 2-1-1 Day Thursday, they’re showing off a revamped website.

Later this year they’ll roll out texting services.

And, she said, they’re working to expand resources for Virginia’s Spanish speakers. They’d also like to work toward tracking the success rate of their referrals.

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