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United Way of the Plains fields record number of phone calls to 2-1-1 hotline

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The United Way of the Plains set a new record last week, fielding 851 calls to their 2-1-1 hotline number in a single day.

The 2-1-1 line is used to share services and coordinate resources for people and families facing a crisis or needing information.

Call center coordinator Heather Pierce has been with the hotline since its inception. She reports the previous busiest day ever had 622 phone calls. The previous busiest call volume of 2020 was a day with 595 phone calls.

“Persons can call at any time, and we do use a language line, so we’ve been using that a lot recently as the virus has hit certain industries, so we can get an interpreter on the line right away and do a live interpretation with that call to help the person,” Pierce said.

Pierce estimates that 70% of the phone calls to 2-1-1 last week were for people wanting to be tested for coronavirus after possible exposure.

Other reasons include rent assistance, utility bill questions, and questions regarding the upcoming July 15 tax deadline. United Way offers tax filing services for free if your household income is lower than $60,000 a year.

“We’re still doing a great job of answering those calls live. they’re not going to voicemail, we’re answering them live,” Pierce said.

The 2-1-1 number works anywhere in Kansas. Pierce says, sometimes people call wanting resources for family or friends living in far western Kansas. A call center worker can re-direct that person to the appropriate place to find what they are looking for.

2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and in multiple languages.

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