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United Way rolls out 211 service in Missouri

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Missouri now has a new statewide 211 telephone service to link residents to a variety of health and charitable services.

The project was launched by the United Way and is expected to field about 200,000 calls per year.

Cheryl Polk is the Chief Operating Officer of the United Way of Greater St. Louis.

"This is not just a 411 information line where you're getting a phone number," Polk said.

"You get people on the line, live individuals, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, who are going to asses the callers needs."

Polk said 211 will help connect residents with services such as food pantries, day care, health clinics or utility assistance.

The project launched by the United Way currently covers 90-percent of Missouri's population the remaining telephone carriers will be added in 2008.

"You can get all kinds of information," says Gary Dollar, president of United Way of Greater St. Louis.

"If you're coming into a community, or if you've had a child and you need to know where to find good, safe, solid child care we can link you to that. If you need mental health resources, you have an aging parent who's beginning to suffer dementia, you can call and find where those resources are."

211 will help connect residents with Missouri's 10,000 nonprofit and government service agencies.

The new number is not an emergency hotline but is expected to relieve the 911 system from fielding non-emergency calls.

All AT&T, Century Tel and Charter customers currently have access to the service.

People calling from Illinois or using cell phones can call 1-800-427-4626.

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