At a press conference Wednesday, United Way of the Ohio Valley announced its new 2-1-1 initiative is now live for the community.

2-1-1 is a free and confidential service that helps people across North America find the local resources they need 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

According to 11-year board member Toby Hall, United Way of the Ohio Valley has been working to bring 2-1-1 to the region for seven years.

Hall, who leads the United Way committee in charge of 2-1-1, said there are over 1,700 resources in the database to help serve the seven-county GRADD region. Those in need of help with basic needs, financial assistance, domestic violence, mental or physical health, aging and disability services, workforce development and other human services are encouraged to call 2-1-1 to find which local organizations are best suited to help.

According to Hall, all calls are answered by a person and not an automated system. He said the call center is a part of a national program, but local calls will be answered by a center in Lexington.

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During Wednesday’s press conference, Hall called 2-1-1 in a demonstration for the audience. He requested help paying his electric bill and was provided information on two local organizations to help him, including the requirements for the assistance, what to bring to the office, hours of operation and phone number to contact.

David Ross, United Way CEO and president, said once 2-1-1 has been operational for 18 months, the community will be able to track data of what services are most needed as well as gaps in service where needs go unmet.

“This gives us the opportunity to hear directly from the community,” Ross said. “You have the ability to be caseworkers for your own families, your co-workers. When people ask for help, dial 2-1-1.”

Hall said the program will first be rolled out in Daviess County and then the remaining six GRADD counties by May.

There are many platforms to access 2-1-1. Those in need of help are encouraged to call 2-1-1 or 844-965-1596; text 898211; visit greenriver211.org; or download the smartphone app.

By Ashley Sorce, Owensboro TimesBy Ashley Sorce, Owensboro Times