Who Do You Call?

United Way 2-1-1 is a free, confidential referral and information helpline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Just as 9-1-1 is a critical resource in times of emergencies such as a fire or accident; 2-1-1 is a vital resource for people experiencing a health and human service crisis or in need of information.  Think of someone who is without a home and need of shelter, or hungry and seeking assistance with food for their family…where do they turn for information about local agencies that can help?  United Way 2-1-1 is a free, confidential referral and information helpline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The 2-1-1 call centers are operated by United Way under national standards and are staffed by trained specialists who assess callers’ needs and refer them to the help they seek. Individuals can receive resources and information on a broad range of services, including food banks, affordable housing, health and child care, after school programs, elderly care, financial literacy and job training programs. Our local 2-1-1, Missouri 2-11, covers 99 counties throughout the state as well as nine metro-east Illinois counties.  The remaining 17 counties are covered by United Way of Greater Kansas City’s 2-1-1. 

Our local 2-1-1 Call Center is located at the United Way of Greater St. Louis, with data collection hubs in Cape Girardeau, Jefferson City, Springfield, and St. Louis.  Data hubs focus on updating records about health, health-related, and social services to ensure that callers always receive up-to-date information. 

It is thanks to the partnership between United Way of Greater St. Louis and Missouri Foundation for Health that Missouri 2-1-1 was born in 2007 and remains a vital source of information and support in our communities.  United Way 2-1-1 call centers received more than 257,000 requests for help during the months of January through October of this year. In Central Missouri, 17 percent of requests were regarding resources or information about utilities and 32 percent were requests about housing and shelter resources.

United Way’s 2-1-1 also plays a critical role during natural disasters, giving 9-1-1 operators a place to direct non-emergency calls so they can focus on life-and-death situations.  United Way 2-1-1 located response and recovery resources and linked volunteers to opportunities for recent disasters, such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the earthquake that affected Mexico. 

2-1-1 also serves as the number to call for weather related emergencies, providing public information and handling requests for critical transportation needs and warming shelters. Taking preventive action is the best defense against having to deal with extreme cold-weather conditions. By preparing your home and car in advance for winter emergencies, and by observing safety precautions during times of extremely cold weather, you can reduce the risk of weather-related health problems.

As we see temperatures begin to dip, here are tips to help keep you safe and warm during cold weather emergencies.

• Dress in layered clothing and wear some sort of head gear/ covering

• Check space heaters for sufficient ventilation and wire condition

• Never place space heaters close to flammable objects, such as drapes or bedding or on top of furniture or near water

• Make sure fireplace flues are cleaned and are working properly and have your chimney inspected

• Check extension cords for breaks or fraying

• Check on your neighbors – especially the elderly

• Keep pets inside

• Never use an electric generator indoors, inside the garage, or near the air intake of your home because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning; also do not use charcoal or gas grills indoors

• Insulate walls and the attic. Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows.

• Insulate any water lines that run along outer walls (water will be less likely to freeze)

• Service snow-removal equipment

• Install an easy-to-read outdoor thermometer

• Prepare your home and car for cold weather – contact 2-1-1 to find the nearest location where you can purchase or receive a safety kit.

For information on what to do during a cold-weather emergency or if you or someone you know needs help, call United Way 2-1-1 by dialing 2-1-1 or 800-427-4626 or visiting www.211helps.org.