211 Helpline for Wiregrass

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211 will be the new helpline for the Wiregrass area.

The phone number first originated in Atlanta and is now being used in 38 other states.

Local "United Way" officials hope it will someday be the first number that comes to mind for people in need in the Wiregrass.

In the event of a fire or a domestic violence situation, the first number to call would be 211.

The standard number would be an instant connection to the nearest help, regardless of where the call comes from.

Walter Hill of the Wiregrass Area United Way said, "Say with a hurricane, people evacuate to all over the country, especially one like Katrina, and no matter where they land, they should be able to pick up the phone and dial 211. All the resources of the community would be available to them."

There are four centers already working in larger Alabama cities.

However, there is only one problem. There is hardly any funding to bring the initiative to the Wiregrass. The United Way is calling for $150 million from the federal government to get the line expanded.

"The bill supporting 211 is one of the only ones in Congress that is actually getting support from both Democrats and Republicans. And it looks like, with that said, there will be a good chance for it to pass."

But regardless of whether or not it passes, United Way officials have no doubt the number will someday cover the entire country. It is only a matter of time. For more information on the initiative, visit www.211.org.