The United Way of the Midlands’ 2-1-1 helpline connects those in need with important resources such as food pantries and housing assistance.
Fratina McCraney, Supervisor of the 2-1-1 helpline, says the service is provided at no charge for residents of the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area.
That includes nine counties in Southwest Iowa and callers from across the state of Nebraska.
McCraney says right now, the majority of callers are asking about free tax assistance or help with their utility bills.
In an effort to ensure everyone has access to the helpline, she says people who need assistance may now connect to the helpline via text message.
"So we are trying to reach out more to those millennials and other people that prefer to text versus call. And then that way they also have those resources. So they text their zip code to 898-211 and then we can send them the referrals over the phone. So if they need a food pantry, for instance, later on, if they need it in another month, they can go back to those text messages and they still have that information.”
The 2-1-1 helpline is available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
The helpline has bilingual staff and a tele-interpreter service so anyone can call and get help.