PF3 requests funding for 2-1-1 program

Published 4:55pm Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Whether it’s questions about senior programs, housing, animal services, support services, pantries, shelters or transportation, Polk residents could soon have a source by calling 2-1-1.

The Polk County Fit, Fresh and Friendly (PF3) asked commissioners to help fund the program, which would be based in Asheville and be a 24-7 information call center.

County commissioners met Monday, March 4 and heard from PF3’s Linda Greensfelder, as well as 2-1-1 director Rachael Nygaard and Jimmy Hines, with the Rutherford-Polk-McDowell Health District regarding the program.

Nygaard said there are people across the community who need help, whether it’s help taking care of their mother or help finding a job and 2-1-1 offers a place to start. The program works like 9-1-1 but directs people to services.

The program is asking Polk County for approximately $12,000 worth of funding for an initial three years of service, but representatives said that amount could lessen dramatically depending on participation from other agencies.

“2-1-1 data can be critical,” said Nygaard. “We talk to people from all walks of life and are able to see the gaps (in services).”

Nygaard said there are 16 million calls in a year across the country to 2-1-1 services and 86,000 calls across North Carolina. There were 37,000 calls handled by the Asheville center in a year. For similarly-sized areas to Polk, such as Madison County, there were 1,000 calls to 2-1-1.

More than 90 percent of Americans have access to 2-1-1 while 87 percent of North Carolinians are now serviced by 2-1-1, Nygaard said.

The program is through the United Way of Asheville with the department of social services being the conduit for funding.

Hines said it’s hard to put a dollar figure on what the service is worth. If someone needed to call the Collins Dental Center, which would they remember, he asked, 2-1-1 or 828-894-3120.

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