WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Westchester residents in need of social services have access to thousands of resources through the United Way's 2-1-1 helpline.
The service is run by United Way of Westchester and Putnam, which partners with organizations, municipalities and corporations around the state to connect people to more than 25,000 social services. The service is free and confidential.
When you call, operators will help you with anything from finding food, housing issues, where to find medical assistance, extended care for the elderly or where to find help paying bills. The phone lines are multilingual and staffed by people who will work with you to find out what your needs are and what steps to take.
"You might call because you're looking for a job, but maybe your immediate need is food," said Shannon Cobb, United Way's senior vice president of marketing and communications.
"During Sandy we had close to 25,000 calls. People called looking for shelter or dry ice, or were stranded in their houses and didn't have any food," Cobb said. "We had about 250 volunteers working during a six-week time period."
When the holidays roll around, there are often calls requesting help finding gifts or food.
"During the holidays, the other thing that rises is stress," Cobb said. People may call because they are feeling stressed out or depressed. Sometimes it may be an emergency situation, in which case the operators will connect that person with 911. Other times it may be somebody recognizing that they need help and calling to ask for assistance in finding support.
"We have the most fantastic team. They are trained to handle so many different call situations," Cobb said. One minute they may be fielding a call from someone wanting to know recycling regulations, the next they may be dealing with someone dealing with depression.
United Way's 2-1-1 is open every day of the year between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.