Franklin Countys First News

Maine Legislature recognizes February 2020 as 211 Month

Sen. Susan Deschambault (D-York) presenting the Joint Resolution to the State Senate on Feb. 11.

AUGUSTA - Maine Legislature voted to recognize February 2020 as 211 Month with bipartisan support. Finding help for complex needs like shelter, substance use, mental health, or food access can be hard for many Mainers looking for themselves or someone they know. Fortunately, there is a resource here in Maine to help.

"211 Maine is a free, confidential avenue for people of all ages to access information and resources," said Rep. Abigail Griffin (R-Levant). "It allows people to connect with professionals who can help or lead them in the right direction. It provides assistance with different issues such as crisis, housing, health services and other useful information. I co-sponsored the 211 Resolution so that more people will be aware of this helpful service.”

The Joint Resolution recognizing 211 Month in Maine was cosponsored by Sen. Susan Deschambault (D-Biddeford), Rep. Abigail Griffin (R-Levant), Sen. Michael Carpenter (D-Houlton), Sen. Ned Claxton (D-Auburn), and Rep. William Tuell (R-East Machias).

“When you call 211, you speak with trained professionals who can direct you to the right program or resource and point you to the next step,” said Sen. Susan Deschambault (D-Biddeford). “Back in December, I mentioned the 211 program in a column I wrote for The Courier. I ended up receiving many calls and emails from people who told me that they were grateful to learn about 211”

“Finding the right resource can be confusing and frustrating,” said Liz Cotter Schlax, United Way of Greater Portland CEO/President and President of the 211 Maine Board of Directors. “While the internet can be helpful, often what a person really needs is to have a conversation. With 211, they speak directly with an actual person right here in Maine. That is so valuable.”

In addition to helping Mainers connect to the spectrum of health and human services, 211 is involved in specific initiatives like the Maine Opiate Helpline. 211 works in partnership with Maine Department of Health and Human Services to provide a toll-free statewide helpline for individuals seeking services for opiate use. By contacting 211, Mainers can connect to the Opiate Helpline and receive confidential information and referrals to treatment options in their area, as well as a follow-up call to see whether there were any barriers to access services.

Since becoming a statewide service in 2006, 211 Maine has received over 750,000 calls. Every month, 211 receives thousands of calls from people in need of information. In 2019, the most common reasons individuals contacted 211 Maine were for heating assistance, utilities assistance, mental health services, housing/shelter, and food.

Specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by texting a Maine zip code to 898-211 or by dialing 211. 211 Maine is a collaborative effort of the United Ways of Maine, the State of Maine, and The Opportunity Alliance as the Contact Center Partner.

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