2-1-1 Call Center busy during brutal winter - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

2-1-1 Call Center busy during brutal winter

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Toledo, OH - During this long, brutal winter, a growing number of people are struggling to keep up with their home heating bills.

Help is a phone call away.

"When people don't know where to turn, they can turn to us," says Erin Goff, the Program Manager for the United Way of Greater Toledo's 2-1-1 Call Center.

Staying warm is a major, common concern for people who have been calling 2-1-1 for help these last few weeks.

"Clearly there is a need out there," says Karen Mathison, the President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Toledo. "We are very proud of the staff who work to man 2-1-1 calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we love that 2-1- 1 is filled with resources for people to get answers to questions that they have."

The call is free and anonymous. 

The United Way of Greater Toledo has more than 1,000 referral agencies in its database for the five-county area, including Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa Counties.

Operators connect people with help.

"We can help to guide them, assess their situation and link them up with the resources in the community that are best able to meet their needs," says Goff.

In the past few days alone, they have helped hundreds of callers.  Some are looking for shelter. Operators helped 62 callers looking for help to pay their gas or electric bill.

"It's hard for people to ask for help, but we're trained and experienced," says Erin Goff, the Program Manager for the United Way 2-1-1 Call Center. "We hear it every day. We're here to help people."

The people at United Way are proud to share a recent success story from when they helped a new mom and dad in crisis.

"It's one of those heartwarming, pull-at-your heart-strings kind of stories," says Mathison.

2-1-1 received a call from a Toledo couple who drove home from the hospital with their newborn baby, only to discover their home has no heat.

Their furnace broke down.

"We got them connected with housing assistance temporarily," says Mathison. "We then worked on their behalf to call and get their heating restored and repaired. They're now back home enjoying those special moments with their newborn. They have heat on in their house."

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