For anyone who has lost a job, been evicted or has other hardships, finding help is as easy as calling the 2-1-1 Info Line for answers.
"We have over 1,100 agencies and 10,000 different services in a database, and we make referrals based on someone’s need," said Tanya Kahl, interim president and CEO of Info Line.
In order to better serve Summit County, Info Line is merging with United Way of Summit County.
United Way President and CEO Jim Mullen said the United Way will operate the 2-1-1 program and a formal agreement will be finished in the next couple months.
The 2-1-1 program, operated by Info Line in Summit County since 1975, should operate more efficiently and be able to expand services through United Way, Kahl said.
"Thousands of Summit County residents use 2-1-1 to access services," said Derrick W. Ransom, chairman of Info Line’s board of directors. "This merger will be great for our community and will ensure continuity of services for those who need them."
The merger is a positive change and 2-1-1 will be promoted more broadly so people will be aware of it as an entrance point for information and help, Kahl said.
Agencies available for referrals include local, state, federal and nonprofit groups that serve Summit County, she said.
"We responded to over 70,000 calls and texts to 2-1-1, so it is widely used, but many people think we only have services for people who are low income," Kahl added. "We have many services for all populations."
Different situations include individuals who are aging and are having trouble living independently, she said.
"They may not have financial needs but want to find services like Meals on Wheels," Kahl said. "Or they need driving services."
Individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues can find help, Kahl said. Those facing an illness like cancer or disability can be given information for coping and support groups. Anyone unemployed can ask for resources to write a resume, prepare for an interview or help find work, health options and financial assistance.
"Every year we have info on organizations to pick plans for retirement," Kahl said.
The most common calls are about finding a food pantry open on a particular day, Kahl said. The second common call is for help paying a utility bill.
United Way of Summit County takes on the issues that matter most to children and families in Greater Akron and the merger should be seamless, Mullen said.
"As we work toward our Bold Goals and a better future for greater Akron, it’s vital that we can refer local families to the resources they need to help them thrive," said Christine Mayer, chairwoman of United Way’s board of directors. "By working together as one organization, United Way and Info Line can ensure that those services will continue to grow and adapt to meet the needs of our community."
Mullen said the merger will provide for the continuation and expansion of information and referral services across Summit County in line with United Way’s Bold Goals for 2025, which include:
1. Teach third-graders to read at or above grade level from the current 38 percent to 65 percent.
2. Increase the number of high school graduates from 75 percent to 90 percent and increase those ready for college or career ready from 21 percent to 60 percent.
3. Financially empower 11,000 people with the skills, knowledge and resources to budget and save, manage debt, build credit and access banking services. Currently 42,000 people in Akron are considered to be "working poor."
4. Reduce the number of emergency visits due to overdoses from 2,400 to 1,000 annually.
Learn more at uwsummit.org.
Info Line helps tens of thousands of Northeast Ohio residents annually secure services essential for living safe, healthy and successful lives. Learn more at infolineinc.org or visit 211summit.org for a complete database of services.
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org