Fayette County Emergency Management Agency to host meeting on 2-1-1

| Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Fayette County Emergency Management Agency will host an informational meeting to introduce a public health and human services information line to several county entities.

Pennsylvania 2-1-1 Southwest went online in Fayette County in February 2012 as an information line that puts callers in touch with numerous human service programs.

“Right now, not many people know about it,” said Susan Griffith, emergency management public information officer with FCEMA.

Griffith said the 911 Center has received calls from people in situations ranging from housing foreclosures to household food shortages. While the 911 Center keeps a list of human service providers to contact, 911 exists to provide emergency assistance for life or property-threatening situations.

Funded by United Way, 2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember number that connects the caller with assistance — in many cases, it connects the caller to multiple resources for different needs for one issue.

Phone lines are staffed 24 hours a day by trained resource navigators who can help the callers not only find the specific item of inquiry, but other resources that the person may need.

On 2-1-1 Southwest's website (www.pa211sw.org), the organization lists more than 250 human services available in and for Fayette County.

According to Southwest 2-2-1, in Fayette County, call volume increased by 75 percent in 2012 as more residents were referred to the number.

Call data showed the top needs in Fayette County are food pantries, rent-payment assistance, electric service payment assistance, heating fuel payment assistance and mortgage payment assistance.

The highest numbers of calls generated in Fayette County came from Uniontown, Connellsville, Belle Vernon, Everson and Brownsville.

Across the service region, the top needs in 2012 were housing and shelter, followed by utility assistance, food, material goods, individual and family services and consumer services.

“The increase in call volume shows that 2-1-1 has become the place to turn for human services help in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Julie DeSeyn, director of PA 2-1-1 Southwest. “While any of our neighbors in need is too many, it means that we've been able to connect more people in need with resources in their community. We look forward to serving even more people in 2013.”

The informational meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the South Union Township VFD.

The purpose of the meeting is to have members of the 2-1-1 Southwest staff together with members of the county's human services programs and key county officials so that more specific information can be collected and leave with a better understanding of 2-1-1.

Griffith said agencies can contact 2-1-1 to inform them when shelters are open during a storm, for example.

“We're really pleased,” Griffith said. “There's a lot of services out there that people don't know about.”

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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