The Horton, Inc., United Way Committee had this entry in the Britton-Hecla and Langford Area homecoming parades to help promote the new 211 Help Line in Marshall County.
211 Service Available In County
Marshall County residents can now dial 211 to obtain all kinds of information.
In July, 2000, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reserved the 211 dialing code for community information and referral services. The FCC intended the 211 code as an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number that would enable a critical connection between individuals and families in need and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies.
Currently, active 211 systems cover all or part of 50 states, but Marshall County, along with Brown County, are the only two counties in the northern tier of the state to activate the system. Currently 70 percent of South Dakota’s population has access to 211, and the state legislature passed a bill this year which provides a funding match to expand the program in the state.
The Horton United Way Committee was introduced to 211 about a year ago by the chairperson of the United Way of Northeast South Dakota in the Aberdeen office.
“When we heard about it we all thought it would be a good thing for our county to have,” said Denise Wieker of the Horton United Way Committee. “We went to the Marshall County Commission and asked if they would pay for it, and they agreed.”
The state and county each pay half of the cost, and the county commission also asked the United Way Committee to help market the helpline center. The group had a float in the Langford Area and Britton-Hecla homecoming parades to help raise awareness. Posters have also been hung in county communities, there is a Facebook presence, Dial 211 cards have been distributed and are available at various locations, and information has been sent out to county employers to share with employees.
The 211 service is a connection to all kinds of services. It serves as a help line for people needing food or clothing or some kind of shelter. That service came to the forefront recently in Sioux Falls when the city was hit by a tornado and flooding. Citizens could also call to volunteer to help and the service coordinated the whole process of volunteerism.
Information is also available about clubs, churches, organizations, and things in the community. 211 also serves as a suicide prevention number open to anyone 24-7 who is thinking about suicide, it is a connection to basic human needs resources, mental health and health resources, employment supports, children, youth, and family support, and volunteer opportunities and donations.
Any non-profit organization, including religious organizations, can be listed in the 211 data base. People can call the 211 number or also access the information online at helplinecenter.org.
“The biggest thing that people can do is fill out the intake form available online and get their information out there,” said Wieker. “That way, when people do call 211, there will be a bunch of information for our Marshall County residents.”
That form can be accessed at helplinecenter.org/211intake.
“This is just an absolutely awesome resource for somebody new moving into town, or somebody needing heating assistance, or a bunch of other things,” added Wieker. “And it’s nice that people can access it either online or by making a phone call.”