By Mark Bullock - Email
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - In emergencies, you know to dial 911. For telephone numbers, you can dial 411. But there's another 3-digit phone number that a lot of people don't know about.
It's a free, statewide service designed to help solve non-emergency problems. And now it's available 24 hours a day.
By simply dialing 211, you'll be connected with operators who have a wealth of information at their fingertips.
"People call our call center for all sorts of reasons," said 211 Program Coordinator Joann Johnson.
211 operators can put you in touch with government agencies, charities and faith based groups that specialize in all sorts of health and human services. Here's a list of examples:
- Health Services
- Financial Assistance
- Tax Advice
- Child & Elder Care
- Education & Job Training.
"Often times, people call and don't know what kind of help they need," explained Johnson. "So we assess their situation and make a referral."
Most recently, 211 helped hundreds of Hurricane Gustav evacuees who were looking for shelters and other relief aid.
And because that kind of aid could be needed at a moment's notice, 211 recently expanded to a 24-hour/day schedule.
"We want them to talk to a live person no matter what time of day it is," Johnson said.
After 4:30pm weekdays, local calls are diverted from Montgomery to the 211 statewide crisis line in Birmingham.
So no matter when you call, you won't get a machine.
211's Montgomery office operates out of the Volunteer and Information Center, so you can also call to learn about volunteer opportunities in the area.
The service is available free from any land line in the state. If you're calling from a cell phone, you can dial toll-free (866) 869-4921.