St. John United Way reminds residents of value of 2-1-1

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 27, 2011

LAPLACE – As the start of hurricane season closes in on the region, the St. John the Baptist Parish United Way is reminding residents of the vast amounts of information that can be obtained through the 2-1-1 telephone system.

Residents can use the 2-1-1 system free of charge to get assistance with a variety of services such as information and referrals to community services. In addition, 2-1-1 also provides crisis intervention/suicide prevention services for residents who need assistance. The services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year simply by dialing 2-1-1. 

“We hope the residents of St. John will utilize this service to gain information to community resources, prevent crises and suicides and assist with preparing for hurricane season,” said Dean Torres, executive director of the St. John United Way. 

Torres said the unique thing about 2-1-1 is it puts a person in need in contact with a trained professional who can guide the caller to the most appropriate service organization available. 

“Statistics indicate that people seeking assistance will give up after two unsuccessful attempts,” Torres said. “It is therefore essential that the first one or two referrals be to those agencies who provide the service being sought.”

Torres said the program is administered by VIA LINK, which is a call center located in New Orleans. He said VIA LINK receives $16,000 in funding from the St. John United Way annually. 

The 2-1-1 program, which is available statewide through other funding sources, has assisted hundreds of residents of St. John Parish with a variety of issues and concerns. Torres said the funding received by VIA LINK from the St. John United Way enables citizens of St. John Parish to have access to the VIA LINK 24-hour call center, which connects callers with capable and highly trained counselors who are able to assist with limited advocacy, information and referral, as well as crisis intervention/suicide prevention services.

“With their funding and collaborative efforts, the St. John United Way provides our agency with the capacity to be a strong partner in the area and helps meet community needs. We serve as a 24 hour safety net for citizens of the parish,” said Marguerite Redwine, chief executive officer of VIA LINK.