News Release | United Way 2-1-1 Celebrates 15 Year Anniversary

For Release: Thursday, November 15th, 2018

United Way 2-1-1 Celebrates 15 Year Anniversary 

FORT WAYNE (November 15th, 2018) – United Way 2-1-1 is celebrating its 15th anniversary with an open house on Thursday, November 15th from 1 PM-5 PM at United Way of Allen County. The resource and information referral center has been an integral part of the region since 2003, answering more than half a million calls, offering not only resources but also hope to millions of people in our region. 

2-1-1 is a national dialing code for free, confidential 24-hour access to health and human services, such as housing, shelter, food, legal aid, clothing, counseling, utility assistance, health care, transportation and more. Community Navigators are trained to identify callers needs and determine what agency or program will best meet their needs.

Jaimie Ferren, Director of 211 Services comments on why someone might reach out to 2-1-1, “People contact 2-1-1 for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s because someone they care about is struggling or they want to become more involved in their community. Other times it is because an unexpected life change has left them with questions about how to make it through. But always, when people call 2-1-1 it’s because 2-1-1 is trusted source of information. Our Community Navigators are true professionals who care about the lives of every person they connect with.” 

The seed for 2-1-1 was planted in 1983, when International Harvester closed, devastating many local families. At the time, there was an existing 24/7 crisis hotline in the community, Switchboard, Inc., that was identified to fill the need of helping the thousands of displaced Harvester employees locate community resources to assist them.  As a result, First Call for Help was launched as a comprehensive information and referral program in the spring of 1983.  It remained under Switchboard, Inc. until that agency dissolved in August 1999.  The program was then managed by Family & Children Services for two years until 2001, when First Call For Help became a program of United Way of Allen County.  During that two-year period, First Call For Help became involved in the Indiana 211 Initiative.  In 2003, 2-1-1 was born when the Allen County center answered Indiana’s first call from the national dialing code: 2-1-1.

Today, the Allen County center is a member of the IN211 Partnership along with three other centers statewide. Together, the centers maintain a database of 28,802 health and human services provided by 7,883 agencies.  An average of 40,000 calls are handled annually at the Fort Wayne center.  In 2017, a text feature was added, allowing people to text their zip code to 898-211 for text with a live Community Navigator. In July 2018, 
2-1-1 launched a new screening tool, designed to address the source of callers’ needs, not just the symptoms. 

“2-1-1 impacts lives every day by educating callers about the thousands of resources our communities have to offer and empowers those who need them to use them,” said David Nicole, President and CEO of United Way of Allen County. “We are proud to serve as the trusted connection between the community and agencies for the last 15 years and look forward to the future.”

About United Way
Established in 1922, United Way of Allen County is a not-for-profit organization that works to strengthen the community through education, income, health, and basic needs. United Way 2-1-1 is one of the programs that helps break down community barriers and creates lasting change within our neighborhoods. For more information, please visit