Alaska 2-1-1 service a valuable resource
As mayor, I’m frequently reminded of the generosity of our citizens, as well as the incredible community supports available to Anchorage residents in need. And I’m often surprised to learn that not enough people take advantage of, or even know about, these resources.
Last fall, I toured the operations center of Alaska 2-1-1, the free statewide health and human services information and referral system. I was impressed by the services its staff provided. Ending my visit, I admitted that I didn’t realize the extent and impact of Alaska 2-1-1’s efforts.
The project managers weren’t surprised. They said that while call volumes increase monthly, many Alaskans still don’t know about Alaska 2-1-1. Most Alaskans have never had to ask for help before ... until now.
In the past year, calls to Alaska 2-1-1 doubled – of the 13,200 calls in 2009, 6,500 were from Anchorage. All Alaskans need to know that help is available and easy to access.
By dialing 2-1-1 (or in some regions, 800-478-2221), callers connect to specialists who can direct them to information ranging from child care and rent and bill assistance, to neighborhood food pantries and employment supports, and much more. The calls are confidential, and because of a partnership with Language Line, specialists can communicate with callers in many languages.
Alaska 2-1-1 can also play a critical role for us all in the case of a natural disaster. Alaska’s 2-1-1’s headquarters is located in the Municipality’s Emergency Operations Center, which establishes a natural partnership between the Office of Emergency Management and Alaska 2-1-1. In the case of a disaster, Alaska 2-1-1 will be able to provide vital information to the public as it becomes available.
I bring up Alaska 2-1-1 because Wednesday, Feb. 11, marks the second anniversary of its operations. To mark that day, I will sign a proclamation declaring Feb. 11, 2010, Alaska 2-1-1 Day in Anchorage. I will also encourage everyone to celebrate the anniversary by spreading the word and making sure all of our neighbors, coworkers and friends know about the resources available to them.
You can reach Alaska 2-1-1 by dialing 2-1-1 or 1-800-478-2221 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Alaska 2-1-1’s website is http://www.alaska211.org/.