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United Way of Central Texas 211 helpline experiences surge in calls due to COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 7:29 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 20:29:42-05

The United of Central Texas 211 helpline experienced a surge in calls due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The statewide service is available to assist thousands of people find the most accurate information to their questions.

The local helpline serves seven different counties, but often answer calls from all over the Lone Star State.

"If the calls come in, we take the calls, and so if other call centers are busy, they roll over to us," said Veshell Greene, vice president of United Way of Central Texas Resource Development.

2020 was a year full of challenges, and the number of calls the organization received is a clear reflection of it. In 2019, they received over 43,000 calls. In 2020, that number doubled to over 93,000.

"And then COVID happened, and everyone was like "Where do we go for COVID tests? What are the symptoms? What happens if I am not working?" People were asking about unemployment," Greene explained.

Three of the top five needs for 2020 included food pantries, housing authorities, and homeless shelter information. The Salvation Army is a partner and huge asset in helping many who call.

"It gives us a lot of joy to help people in need. We must partner with other agencies like UWCT. We are doing our best to end homelessness," said Lieutenant David Beckham of Salvation Army Bell County.

Greene says most importantly, every call is answered, and help is provided with the most recent information.

"They have to look up every call to find the current resource available. A lot of people do not realize 211 exist. Instead of searching and calling multiple numbers, you can call just one," said Greene.