United Way 2-1-1 is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week health and human services hotline accessible by dialing 2-1-1 from any phone or by visiting 211ct.org.
It connects callers, at no cost, to critical health and human services in their community. 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.
Everyday 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.
United Way 2-1-1 is a gateway to services related to food, mental health, health care, housing, youth, substance abuse, utility assistance and much more. They send out a monthly e-news letter called 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, the “Dear Dad Tour,” medical appointment transportation, and a list of summer farmers markets across the state. For those who do not yet subscribe, I would like to share some of the key messages.
While summer is known for bringing barbecues, beach days and picnics, it unfortunately also tends to bring heat waves and hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, and the greatest risk for Connecticut is usually from mid-August to mid-October. According to 2-1-1, before the season is in full swing is the best time to create or update your emergency storm plan.
In the event of a hurricane, it is recommended family members keep a card with them listing vital contact information for family doctors, insurance companies and schools. It is also a good idea to have an out-of-town contact, as they may not be impacted by the storm and will have better means of communication with potentially separated family members.
A disaster kit should also be assembled and stored for every member of the family, and do not forget about the pets! One gallon of water per person per day, for at least three days, is necessary for both drinking and sanitation. Keep at least three days of nonperishable food as well, and ensure you also have at least one can opener if you are storing canned foods.
For more helpful tips, you can also download the CT Prepares’ App in the Apple iTunes or Google play store, download or request a free copy of the Connecticut guide to emergency preparedness, sign up for the state of Connecticut emergency notification system, and be award of inclement weather forecasts and follow the instructions provided by public safety officials.
2-1-1 also maintains several ELibrary papers that can help you get prepared and stay informed. Please visit their ct211.org to access these.
In honor of Father’s Day this year, the Department of Social Services’ Connecticut Fatherhood Initiative recently traveled across the state to collect stories about the important role of fathers. Called the Dear Dad Tour, the month-long public awareness campaign provided a platform for Connecticut residents to tell stories about their dad or their experience being a dad.
The CFI is a multi-agency statewide program led by the Department of Social Services that is focused on changing the systems that can improve fathers’ ability to be fully and positively involved in the lives of their children. The main objectives of the initiative are to provide dads with the skills and supports they need to get involved in the lives of their children and stay connected.
In partnership with DSS and the CFI, 2-1-1 Connecticut maintains a list of resources to support fathers. Visit the 2-1-1- website for a snapshot of resources that can help support fathers or simply dial 2-1-1 to speak with a 2-1-1 contact specialist. I encourage you to please take a moment to the watch the inspiring video at deardadtour.org.
Did you know 2-1-1 years can connect you or someone you know who is in need of non-emergency transportation to a medical appointment? Last year, 2-1-1 contact specialists received nearly 1,800 service requests for medical appointment transportation assistance. You can call 2-1-1 or visit 211ct.org, and search “medical appointments transportation” to learn more about transportation in your community.
There, you will be prompted to input your location and reason for transportation.
Lastly, there are more than 100 farmers markets offered in local and fresh products throughout Connecticut. Although these farmers markets are primarily for community members to be provided with quality and healthy foods — they also serve as community gathering place for everyone to enjoy
For a full list of farmers markets across the state, please visit the Connecticut Department of Agriculture website. Many of the markets are affiliated with the Women, Infant, and Children program, as well as the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition program. These programs provide eligible WIC clients and seniors access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
For additional information, check out 2-1-1’s WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and their Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program ELibrary papers.
United Way 2-1-1 is an incredible service to our state, and a portion of your donations to Middlesex United Way makes it possible. United Way 2-1-1 is funded primarily by the state of Connecticut and Connecticut United Ways. We would like to take all of those who donate and volunteer for helping to provide 2-1-1 and so many other services.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.