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Wiregrass Gives Back: Wiregrass 2-1-1 is on a mission to collaborate, inform and connect

Wiregrass Gives Back is highlighting nonprofits in Southeast Alabama.
Updated: Jun. 9, 2022 at 2:00 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Wiregrass 2-1-1 is the heart of connecting people with needs in Southeast Alabama. This nonprofit is a free program bringing people and services together 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Wiregrass 2-1-1 serves seven counties and partners with over 900 agencies. The organization is on a mission to collaborate, inform and connect people to build a stronger community.

“Information is power,” Marc Cronin, contact center manager, said.

This non-profit is using information for the better. Whether a caller is looking for assistance for one issue, or multiple, they are there to help.

“We are here for our community, we are here for the people who need us the most,” David Duke, executive director, said.

Call specialists connect callers who need help paying utilities, provide food for their family and so much more.

“A lot of people right now are struggling,” Duke said. “We all know that prices are going up, a lot of people are having to cut back, as a result they may need a little help until they can get back on their feet again.”

Beyond that, Wiregrass 2-1-1 is there to help when disasters hit.

“We’ll get that information out there to the public so that they are not inundating local police, the local fire department or 911 with questions that we can answer or provide to them,” Cronin said.

Right now, the biggest call for assistance is in regards to housing.

“Rent has gone up quite a bit too and a lot of people may need help with rent assistance or utilities assistance,” Duke said. “They may need help just trying to be able to find housing. What are the options here for maybe low-income subsidized housing, what are the options, where to go, what to do to get that housing.”

Since Wiregrass 2-1-1 began providing services 14 years ago, they have answered 209,334 calls and have provided 373,165 referrals to programs helping people in local communities.

When you make a call to Wiregrass 2-1-1, you have a real-life conversation with a contact specialist, who is there to provide in depth connection.

“You’re going to get a caring person that will help you determine what help you might need,” Duke said. “Sometimes people don’t know when they call us, they can be distraught.”

These call specialists say they are there for callers, and understand.

“Most everyone here, if not all of us, have had rough times in our life and it’s been difficult at times, we’ve struggled growing up,” Duke said.

Understanding so much so, they have gotten help before themselves, and are here to assist others who need it.

“One of the organizations that I ran into with 2-1-1, they helped me, and it was truly a blessing,” Emma Griffin, call specialist, said.

These call specialist understand the first step of making that call to help can be difficult, but say this is why they are there.

“I had a call with a young lady not too long ago, she said that she really hated to call in because that’s her first time ever needing help,” Griffin said. “I was just telling her really, swallow your pride, ask for help because people can’t help you if they don’t know you need help.”

This is not an uncommon scene at Wiregrass 2-1-1. Duke wants to stress their understanding and willingness to provide assistance to callers, and said there is no need for apologies.

“We get calls like that every day,” Duke said. “People that are apologizing, there’s no need. We’re here for you. You know, we all, we all, need a little help sometimes.”

If wanted, you can remain anonymous. All they need to help you is your zip code.

“We are not just providing phone numbers, we are providing intake information,” Duke said. “...when are they available to do intake, what do you need to do if you need assistance, can you just call them to make an appointment, can you walk in, what documentation is required, so we’re educating folks.”

Call specialists make follow up calls to see if callers put the resources into use. When they hear they do, they tell News 4 it is rewarding.

“That’s gratifying,” Griffin said.

“It’s a good feeling to walk in the door and know that we are providing the services to the community that’s needed,” Cronin said.

If you need assistance, here is how you can contact Wiregrass 2-1-1:

Dial: 2-1-1 or 1-888-421-1266

Text: Text your zip code to 898-211 (TXT211)

Click here to chat.

Click here to search.

Wiregrass 2-1-1 is celebrating 14 years of service during a Sip, Celebrate and Give event on Tuesday, June 21st from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. This will be at Keel & Co. Distilling. The address is: 119 West Church Street, Headland, Alabama. There will be door prizes, live music, a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres.

Click here for details about the event and to purchase tickets.

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