Lowell, AR – Yesterday, United Way of Northwest Arkansas celebrated the re-opening of 2-1-1 service for our community in Northwest Arkansas! An Open House & Celebration was held at the new United Way of Northwest Arkansas office in Lowell, with a special announcement about 2-1-1 at 2:30.
When 2-1-1, the easy-to-remember, three-digit, Arkansas-wide information and referral system ceased operations in October 2009 due to lack of state funding, it left a gap in services for Northwest Arkansas residents dependent on the system to obtain and provide help to meet their health and human service needs. Guided by the 2008 Community Indicators Report, which showed that access to health and human service programs is important to our area, United Way of Northwest Arkansas (UWNWA) felt that re-starting 2-1-1 was a top priority.
The call center is located in the UWNWA office in Lowell, has one full-time, and two part-time, staff answering calls. Hours of operations are Monday through Friday, 8am – 5 pm. Official start date of the service receiving calls was July 8th, and since that date, the number of calls has increased daily, with an average number of calls per day above 30. If for any reason an individual cannot reach United Way NWA 2-1-1 from a home or cell, he or she can also dial 866.489.6983.
“United Way is providing funding to start the service again here for Northwest Arkansas, but will continue to look for grants and private donations to help sustain the operation over the long-term. United Way will also maintain the existing state-wide social services database, which will be accessible through the internet by all Arkansas residents at www.arkansas211.org,” explained long-time 2-1-1 advocate and United Way volunteer David Bean. “This is an important service for our community,” said Perry Johnson, another long-time 2-1-1 advocate and United Way volunteer. “You can imagine what it feels like to be at the end of your rope, making this phone call to a place that can tell you where to turn for help.”
The database will be kept up-to-date for a possible expansion of 2-1-1 to other parts of the state in the future. Jill Darling, President of United Way of Northwest Arkansas, explained the importance of the service not just for Northwest Arkansas, but for the whole state: “When we first flipped the switch, before the filter system was in place to only receive calls in Northwest Arkansas, we received calls from every part of state. In one night, we had over 80 messages from people in need. One message was from a woman in a domestic violence situation. We were able to call her back and connect her to help she desperately needed.”
Other remarks during the special announcement were also made by Roger Holroyd, (current President of the United Way of Northwest Arkansas Board), David Bean, Tim Summers (Arkansas State Representative & director of Decision Point), and Jill Darling (president of United Way of Northwest Arkansas).
About United Way of Northwest Arkansas
United Way is dedicated to helping advance the good of all in our community through focusing on key issue areas such as education, income and health to create lasting changes in our community. By engaging individuals and companies around giving, advocating and volunteering for these types of issues we can all work to Live United in Northwest Arkansas. For more information about how to Live United, please visit our website at www.unitedwaynwa.org.