On National 211 Day, group reminds Central New Yorkers about ways to get help

Syracuse N.Y. –– Calls to Central New York’s 211 hotline were down slightly in 2022, according to a local center that helps people in crisis.

The helpline is a confidential service that allows counselors to connect individuals with human and community services, such as help getting food, shelter or health care services.

Last year, the majority of people calling 211 in Central New York sought help for housing and shelter, according to Contact Community Services, a nonprofit help center that answers the calls.

Cheryl Giarrusso, division director of crisis services at Contact, said the 211 hotline call center has been serving Onondaga, Oswego, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties since 2016. Before that, Contact answered calls through the Onondaga County Helpline, she said.

In 2022, Giarrusso said the 211 hotline received between 31,000 and 32,000 phone calls. That’s down from 38,000 calls in 2021.

“Setting aside pandemic and emergencies, we have a steady percentage growth annually,” she said. “Things are sort of starting to get back to normal.”

Feb. 11 is National 211 Day. Organizations across the country use the date to remind people that help and resources are available in non-emergency situations. That means people can call 211 to get a range of help, from disaster relief to housing options.

The number is free to call and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers are connected to counselors that direct them to an appropriate resource including food and nutrition programs, shelter and housing options, emergency information and disaster relief, prevention and rehabilitation programs.

“There’s just a vast array of services in the community, and we have the information that will help you to connect to those services,” Giarrusso said.

Aside from the number, people can also use the 211CNY website or text their zip code to 898-211 for help.

The National Suicide Hotline can also be reached by calling or texting the number 988 in addition to 988lifeline.org. Contact can be called at 315-251-0600.

People with any serious medical condition or in a dangerous situation should call 911.

Originally posted on Syracuse.com, February 11, 2023
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