Tom Foley is director of Help Line services at Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Gertrude McGowan, Esq, CEO at Family Services Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania, discusses the 211 Help Line program at a recent event.
Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Family Service Association says no resident in the 17 counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania the agency serves should go without food, utility assistance, rent or housing assistance, crisis intervention or drug and alcohol counseling or detox — especially when help for them or a loved one can be gotten as easily as dialing 211.
Gertrude C. McGowan, Esq., Chief Executive Officer at FSA, said this vital help is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
Today, Feb. 11, is “PA 211 Day,” a day to celebrate the 211 service available to Pennsylvanians to assist them with their health and human service needs.
“PA 211 Day is a fantastic way to recognize this valuable statewide service,” McGowan said. “How convenient is it that all Pennsylvanians, regardless of their location can access this free 24/7/365 referral to their health and human services needs?”
McGowan said Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania has been serving the region for more than 124 years and plans to continue to be here for many more years.
“As long as residents have needs, we will provide services,” McGowan said, noting that FSA began providing information and referral in 1972 when Luzerne County residents could not connect with one another and services in the wake of the Agnes Flood. She said the service has grown in volume in geography to 17 counties since then, and expanding to crisis management and disaster recovery.
“Every call to PA 211 is confidential,” McGowan said. “No financial information or demographic information needs to be supplied.”
McGowan said last fiscal year, PA 211 NE/Help Line handled 96,408 calls — more than 29,000 of these calls were PA 211 calls that addressed over 38, 000 needs of the callers.
Since 1999 Tom Foley has been the Director of Help Line Services at Family Service Association of NEPA.
“Don’t wait till the last minute,” Foley said. “If you have an emergency, don’t wait to reach out to 211. There is no shame in calling 211. You can look at it as your insurance policy. And by that, I mean, for 211/Help Line, call us and we will do our best to help you out.”
About PA 211 Day
The day celebrates the 211 service available to Pennsylvanians to assist them with their health and human service needs.
The PA 211 system is a free, confidential dialing code. Through 211, people connect to a wide range of services from disaster relief to utility assistance, senior citizen programs, emergency food, job counseling, youth programs and much more
The PA 211 system is funded by a combination of United Way support, state funding, grants and private contributions, and contracts. The United Way of Pennsylvania and the nonprofit, PA 211, are partners and leaders in supporting this community-strengthening service.
PA 211 has 24/7/365 phone coverage, as well as texting during some or all hours of the day. To text 211, simply text your zip code to 898-211.
211 is like 4-1-1, but for health, human services and disaster relief. 211 was designated for nationwide use as an information and referral phone line by the Federal Communications Commission in 2000.
PA 211 is available in all 50 U.S. states, and is now available to 100% of Pennsylvanians, 24/7/365.
PA 211 also launched PA 211 Counts — a live tracker of Pennsylvania’s 211 requests. PA 211 Counts shows real-time information on community needs. To view the data of requests in your area, visit pa.211counts.org.
PA 211 is running a statewide texting opt-in campaign which allows Pennsylvanians to receive timely information and updates regarding the 2020 Census. To opt in, individuals should text “PACounts” to 898-211.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.