The Northwoods United Way was incorporated in 1976 and serves Forest, Oneida and Vilas counties. Each year, with donations raised during the fall campaign, the Northwoods United Way helps fund more than 30 human service agencies that provide services to thousands of local residents. These agencies provide food, housing assistance, mental health advocacy, healthy living plans, support for children and families, help for the disabled, scholarships to disadvantaged children to attend summer camp and participate in sporting activities, and information and referral. Regarding information and referral, it is important for those in need of services to be able to go to one place and get information from trained and qualified staff. That’s why this month, the Northwoods United Way is highlighting 211. Our local United Way, as well as United Way organizations across the country, support 211.
Haven’t heard of 211? Well, United Way’s 2-1-1 is the national abbreviated dialing code (like 911 for emergencies and 411 for directory assistance) for free and confidential access to non-emergency health and human services information and referral, and it’s available here, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for residents in Oneida and Vilas counties.
Trained staff and volunteer information specialists offer information and connect people to services that will best meet their needs, providing simple access to often complex and hard-to-find services, such as food and shelter programs, child or elderly care, family services, employment and training support, physical and mental health services, disaster assistance, donated goods, volunteer opportunities and more.
Residents can also search for community services online at unitedwaymc.org/211.htm by clicking on “search database.” By entering a zip code or selecting your city, you can browse categories or types of service, or search by agency name.
About 89 percent of the nation’s population has access to 2-1-1, including all of Wisconsin. Visit 211us.org or 211wisconsin.org to learn more.
United Way’s 2-1-1 is a nationally accredited service and department of the United Way of Marathon County and provides 2-1-1 services for residents of Oneida, Vilas, Lincoln, Marathon and Portage counties. The 2-1-1 services for the northern service area are funded by the Northwoods United Way, Merrill Area United Way, Church Mutual Insurance Company, Aspirus, Marshfield Clinic and Ministry Health Care.
If you are ever in a fire, police or medical emergency, always call 911, but the next time you have a question, need information about community services or are looking for help with personal or family matters, simply call 2-1-1 or log on to unitedwaymc.org/211.htm to get connected and get answers.
Supporting 211 is important for data collection as well. With the valuable demographic information collected by the 211 staff, area United Ways and other human service providers can identify needs and gaps in services. This helps direct funds where they can be used most efficiently.
For more agency information, please visit our website at northwoodsunitedway.org or visit us on facebook.com/northwoodsunitedway.