A young father of two desperately needed a new pair of work boots to keep his construction job. Unsure of how he was going to pay for them, he called the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE. He was connected with a United Way THRIVE specialist and ultimately, the help he received went beyond boots and put his feet on the path to a brighter future. He was provided resources to help him go back to school, get his GED and land a welding job that would lead to greater financial stability for his family.
A strong economy and robust employment market made 2014 a good year for many Houstonians, but even in good times, many people in our community still struggle. With so many needs to be met, the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE provides life-changing services to support individuals and families in good times and bad.
In 2014, United Way of Greater Houston’s 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE answered more than 940,000 calls from our neighbors looking for help. 2-1-1 is a gateway to help for the Houston area, connecting callers to the human services safety net that United Way makes strong. Daily, we respond to callers looking for assistance with food, rent, bills, medical prescriptions and legal aide. Last year, nearly 17,000 calls were answered from military veterans looking for employment assistance, counseling and medical assistance. And when disaster strikes, such as a hurricane, flood or other natural disaster, 2-1-1 is the central resource line for residents in affected areas.
Even though 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE handles the largest volume of helpline calls in the nation, a large number of people in our community still don't know about the service or what it does to change lives for the better. If you heard from neighbors like Rhonda, the shut-in senior citizen who now has transportation to her doctor's appointments and a hot meal delivered to her home by a smiling face, you would think about 2-1-1 in a whole new light.
With call volume essentially quadrupling in less than a decade, we needed a new facility to ensure that 2-1-1 is able to keep up with the growing needs in our community. Thanks to the generosity of Houston philanthropists Penny and Paul Loyd, United Way recently built a state-of-the-art 2-1-1 facility with more space to staff HELPLINE specialists during peak times and the ability to, within hours, add even more capacity in times of disaster. The new facility means that your 2-1-1 HELPLINE is now positioned to serve community needs now and in the future.
We urge you to take a moment and think about a time in your life when you or someone you know has struggled. The power of a calming human voice offering help is profoundly impactful in finding hope and taking action. Not only do our trained 2-1-1 specialists help with our callers’ immediate needs, they also work to treat the root of the problem through initiatives like United Way THRIVE, which helps families achieve financial stability, and our veteran’s initiative.
Help us raise awareness for this vital community resource. If you encounter someone who needs help, whether at work, school or in your neighborhood, encourage them to call 2-1-1. If you are able to join us in supporting United Way in this valuable and community-shaping work, we welcome you. If you are already among the United Way donors and supporters who make 2-1-1 possible, there are nearly a million reasons why you deserve the heartiest thanks.
Scott McLean is president of Zion Bancorporation and a member of the United Way board of directors. He and wife, Anna, are United Way volunteer leaders.
Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 11:33 pm on YourHoustonNews.com By Scott and Anna McClean