PG&E grant will keep 211 going

By adding $25,000 more to its initial $20,000, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. recently underwrote 211 San Luis Obispo County services through June.

Overseen by the United Way of San Luis Obispo County, the system is designed to handle phone calls from the general public for information and assistance that are not immediate, life-threatening emergencies, said Rick London, chief executive officer of United Way.

During the first six months of this year, a monthly average of 1,000 calls were made to 211 SLO County by people seeking social services and programs.

According to London, those needs included where to connect for help with rent and mortgage assistance, food and shelter, health care, job training, transportation, child care and senior care.

In addition to hotline referral help, London added, 211 also plays a critical role in relieving pressure on the 911 system, and providing information on evacuation routes, available medical assistance, road and school closures, and how to locate missing family members.

“211 provides an unmatched, vital service to our community,” said Tom Jones, PG&E government relations director. “Keeping these phone lines open will ensure our friends and neighbors have trained professionals to listen and provide help during times of hardship or distress.

In addition to the $45,000 provided by PG&E, other current 211 partners include Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, the county and First 5 San Luis Obispo County.

Twenty-eight of California’s 58 counties offer, or are planning to offer, 211 services covering 92 percent of California’s population, London said.

“Ongoing funding has been challenging as 211 call centers nationwide await the passage of HR 211, the Calling for 2-1-1 Act, which is working its way through Congress,” he said.

“Until it’s passed, funding by local government and corporate partners will be the only means of maintaining the vital service for San Luis Obispo County residents,” London said.

For more information, visit www.unitedwayslo .org/211/211slo.html.