2-1-1 Tampa Bay Cares, Inc. (2-1-1 TBC) has launched a new text messaging service 898-211 (TXT211), which provides another convenient way for Pinellas and Hernando County residents to access 2-1-1 assistance with housing, utilities, affordable child care, elder services, mental health issues and other critical needs.
Now, in addition to dialing 2-1-1, communicating through the 2-1-1 online chat service or email, residents can communicate directly with our 2-1-1 specialists by simply texting their zip code to 898-211 (TXT211). Within minutes, a 2-1-1 specialist will respond to the initial message.
With a large increase in 2-1-1’s call volume and operator levels remaining constant, the ability to accept text messages will allow more individuals to get information quicker and more efficiently.
“Although most 2-1-1 callers use a landline or cell phone to reach out to our 2-1-1 contact center for help, there is a large number of individuals and families in our community using “texting” to communicate,” said Micki Thompson, Executive Director of 2-1-1 TBC. “Many people are too embarrassed to ask for help. Texting allows individuals and families to get assistance with an added layer of privacy and with greater ease through texting 2-1-1. By having the option to text in questions or requests for assistance to one of our 2-1-1 specialists, we are able to help even more people in our community.”
This texting capability will help increase capacity to handle large surges of callers in emergency and disaster situations. During these situations, text messaging can be the quickest and most reliable means of communication.
In addition, users will also have the option to receive outgoing text “alert” messages from 2-1-1 TBC regarding important announcements including emergency and disaster updates related to health and human service organizations within the community.
As well as its new texting component, 2-1-1 TBC provides the easy-to-remember telephone number 2-1-1 that can be used to connect callers with free information about important health and human services as well as volunteer opportunities. This vital service can also be found online at 211connects.org
2-1-1 is a free, multilingual, 24-hour resource that helps people find critical assistance with most any health and human service need, from rent and food to elder care and disaster relief. 2-1-1 also includes a crisis intervention hotline that provides immediate help for people who are dealing with suicidal thoughts, depression, drug addiction, family violence or any situation that overwhelms their ability to cope.
“We’re thrilled to launch texting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to meet the needs of those who prefer text messaging over a phone call. Whether you prefer to contact us through a text message or phone call we encourage residents to reach out in the method most comfortable to them to connect with resources available in our community,” said Micki Thompson, Executive Director, 2-1-1 Tampa Bay Cares, Inc.
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