Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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February 12, 2013

211 goes statewide

INDIANAPOLIS — More economic indicators are showing progress, but a variety of needs are still high. That's what has made Connect2Help such a vital resource.

The program, a United Way community partner, has a free 24-hour hotline at 211. By calling that a person is connected with an operator who has access to a database of more than 1,800 non-profit, governmental, and faith-based organizations providing more than 6,000 services. There's also a website at connect2help.org.

Connect2Help spun off from United Way 25 years ago. It added its 211 service in 2004.

"I really compliment the board and staff," Ellen Annala, president and CEO of United Way of Central Indiana, said during a recent gathering. "You have taken it so much further and turned it in to such a professional service. This state can be proud of it."

State is the key word. Thanks to a partnership with the Department of Family Resources, this year 211 has been able to expand beyond central Indiana to cover the whole state.

"Not that we're dropping names, but we did it in nine years and 911 I think it took them, like, 10," joked Lynn Engel, president and CEO of Connect2Help. But in all seriousness she added, "Some of our more rural counties, which tend to be the ones that haven't been covered, the need there has not tended to ease like it has in some of the bigger cities."

Even a fast-growing and more affluent county like Hendricks has a need for 211. Last year Connect2Help received almost 3,000 calls to its hotline from Hendricks County, and almost that same number in online searches. Housing was the top need, followed by help paying utilities and holiday assistance. The majority of the calls came from five ZIP codes, Plainfield being No. 1.

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