Middlesex United Way 2-1-1 invaluable resource for Connecticut residents

Simply put, United Way 2-1-1 services are one of the best and most used resources in Connecticut. It serves as your one-stop connection to local resources, including utility assistance, food, housing, child care, after-school programs, elder care, crisis intervention and much more.

By just dialing 2-1-1, you will reach a highly trained contact specialist who will address your needs and provide referrals to appropriate resources in your community.

Every day, contact specialists help callers find assistance for complex issues, such as financial problems, substance abuse and suicide prevention, as well as also being there for the simpler issues, such as finding volunteer opportunities and donation options.

The 2-1-1 service maintains a database of 4,100 health and human services providers offering approximately 40,000 services. Multilingual assistance and TDD access is also available.

As an extension of 2-1-1, United Way 2-1-1 sends out a monthly e-newsletter, the Community Connection, to keep community members informed on current events, what the newest programs in the community offer, as well as provide critical information on changes in current programs.

This month, the Community Connection was related to topics that covered hurricane preparedness, School Attendance Month, and resources for children’s school supplies and clothing. For those who do not yet subscribe, I would like to share a few highlights from this month’s issue.

As most of you know, peak hurricane season spans from mid-August through mid-October, and being prepared can be the difference of life or death in some instances. CT 2-1-1 encourages state residents to take a few simple steps to ensure you are organized and informed during a weather emergency.

These steps include downloading a free copy of the Department of Public Health Connecticut Guide to Emergency Preparedness, signing up for the state of Connecticut Emergency Notification System, and using the guide to assemble an emergency supply kit and family emergency plan. These resources can all be found at ct211.org.

September is Attendance Awareness Month and United Ways across the country are working with communities to raise awareness of the effects of chronic absence on a child’s ability to succeed in school.

Chronic absence — defined as missing 10 percent or more of school due to excused or unexcused absences — causes children to miss a critical amount of instructional time, putting them at risk for failing to meet academic standards or graduate from high school on time.

The Middlesex United Way and others across Connecticut are committed to providing our youth with the tools they need to be successful in school. Middlesex United Way partners with early childhood/school readiness councils throughout the county to ensure students are succeeding.

If you would like to read more about the importance of attendance, visit 211CT.org to read the eLibrary paper, “Why Attendance Matters.”

Lastly, as summer comes to a close, it’s important to know resources throughout Connecticut to ensure students have the supplies they need to properly take on the school year. 2-1-1’s eLibrary paper “School Clothes and School Supplies” can help students, parents and teachers access resources, such as backpacks, shoes and school uniforms.

To learn more about what resources and assistance may be available, visit 211ct.org and search “school clothing” or “school supplies,” or simply dial 2-1-1 to speak with a contact specialist that can help you find local resources.

Whether you visit online or on the phone, United Way’s 2-1-1 services are unmatched in their ability to quickly inform and assist local residents like you or me. If you or a loved one are ever unsure where to turn, know that 2-1-1 is available 24/7, 365 days per year.

Kevin Wilhelm is CEO and president of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.