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2-1-1 System vital to hundreds of St. John residents


             As our region gets closer to hurricane season, the St. John United Way is reminding the residents of St. John of the vast amounts of information that can be obtained through the 2-1-1 telephone system. 

2-1-1 is a phone number residents can call, 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. The unique thing about 2-1-1 is that it puts a person in need 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. It is therefore essential that the first one or two referrals be to those agencies who provide the service being sought. 

2-1-1 is a program administered by VIA LINK, a call center located in New Orleans. VIA LINK receives $16,000 in funding from the St. John United Way annually.  The program, which is available statewide through other funding sources, assisted 497 residents of St. John Parish with a variety of issues and concerns. 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 connecting 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, the Chief Executive Officer of VIA LINK.