Skip to main content

211 Day: From Hello to Help

Friday, February 11 is 211 Day.

In 2021, the 211 network fielded over 20 million requests. Most of those requests weren’t answered by technology, but real people who are part of the 211 network. That means from the first hello, someone in crisis is reaching a real person who can provide a connection to help. Everyone who contacts 211 gets easy, free and confidential help with food, utilities, rent and more. Check out all the ways this vital service is helping people across our region:



“2-1-1 SEPA went the extra mile to help us when we were displaced – twice – by Hurricane Ida.”

Grace and her family had evacuated their home shortly before it was destroyed by floodwater, and headed for a relative’s apartment where they could stay while she was out of town. Now she was back, and they needed to make other arrangements. They had applied for FEMA assistance, which would be a big help; the family home needed extensive work that their insurance wouldn’t cover. Luckily, the car hadn’t been damaged along with the house. Grace couldn’t miss any more time from work. She needed to be there early every weekday, after she took her husband to work and her son to school. She called

2-1-1 SEPA to ask for referrals to disaster relief accommodations within a certain radius of her workplace. She told the Resource Navigator that she was between rounds of chemotherapy, and wearing a leg brace for a torn ACL. She couldn’t handle a long commute on top of everything else. There was nothing available at first, but a 2-1-1 supervisor made some calls and found space at a county hotel that was a short drive from Grace’s office. “Oh my gosh, thank you!” Grace smiled when she heard the news. “You just made my day!” “We like making people’s days here at 2-1-1,” the Resource Navigator replied.


“It’s always a balancing act to make ends meet. 2-1-1 SEPA helped me when I couldn’t do it anymore.”

Florence, 82, is her teenaged grandson’s guardian. He has autism, and she has cared for him by herself since her husband died. She manages on her social security retirement income, food stamps, and her grandson’s disability benefit, but never has a penny to spare. She was dismayed when her monthly electric bill went up by $50, and then again when her utility told her that she did not qualify for its customer assistance program. The utility company referred Florence to 2-1-1 SEPA. The Resource Navigator who took Florence’s call referred her to three agencies that provide utility payment assistance; he also suggested that Florence could obtain a range of services through the Area Agency on Aging and from two providers that serve seniors.

When Florence confided that she and her grandson had no food in the house, he told her about two nearby food pantries where she could get emergency assistance. Florence went to the food cupboard that day; she signed up for its Emergency Food Assistance Program and for senior food boxes. She also applied for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Those resources will offset the additional cost of her electricity. With a little help from 2-1-1 SEPA, the puzzle pieces of her finances fit together again.


“2-1-1 gave me options for helping my kids that I’d never heard about before.”

Lauren, 33, had been looking for safe affordable housing since her twins were born. Her family had grown since then, but she was still filling out applications and on multiple waiting lists. She wondered whether there were housing options she had not tried, or ways to stretch her limited resources so she would have more to spend on rent. She called 2-1-1 SEPA and told the Resource Navigator about the assistance she was already getting and where she could still use some help. He gave her three referrals for services related to housing, including emergency rent assistance, subsidized housing, and housing referral programs. He told her that one of those agencies also offered food, clothing, and a variety of other assistance.

And when he heard that Lauren had two small children under the age of three, he told her about a community-based program that offers a range of supports for parents with young children. Lauren was happy when one of the referral agencies gave her a generous supply of diapers—a huge help, because they cost so much, and she uses so many every day. She hopes that the other referrals will aid in her housing search, too. She hd thought she had tried everything, but she got some new ideas from 2-1-1 SEPA.

“I am so grateful and happy to have your support. You kind people at 2-1-1 are a relief.”

Ruth, 81, was managing alone on a small fixed income. She’d recently had eye surgery; her face was swollen and she had to lie face down for a period of time every day to help her eye heal. Her vision was still so blurry that she could barely make out the numbers as she dialed 2-1-1 SEPA one hot summer morning. Her refrigerator had died five days before. She couldn’t afford to call a repairman and couldn’t leave the house to get ice, so everything had spoiled. She had nothing to eat. Aside from the deacons at her church, who sometimes brought her food, she had no one to call for help. The Resource Navigator realized that Ruth couldn’t see well enough to follow up on referrals herself. So, with Ruth’s permission, she called someone from Ruth’s church who agreed to help Ruth make those calls.

The Resource Navigator sent referrals for assistance with home delivered meals, applying for food stamps, accessing food pantries, getting help with errands and shopping, and accessing free or affordable home repair services. While Ruth remained on the line, the Resource Navigator also called the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s Emergency Fund Line, which helps eligible older adults meet their basic needs. She left a detailed message, including the number of Ruth’s helper at the church. "I'm really happy I called you," Ruth told the Resource Navigator. “Thank you for taking extra steps to make sure I’ll be taken care of.”


“Our finances have been so uncertain since the pandemic. I’m glad 2-1-1 SEPA is there to help us out.”

Tina, 55, and her husband had agreed that he would work while she stayed home to care for their daughter, who has a disability. They managed by carefully budgeting, but when he lost his job due to the pandemic his unemployment benefits didn’t cover their living expenses. They were behind on their rent and utilities when Tina called 2-1-1 SEPA to ask where they could get help. The Resource Navigator gave Tina referrals to seven agencies that provide housing and utility assistance, for food assistance, and other supports that could stretch their household dollars. He called Tina back two weeks later to see if her issues had been resolved. She’d applied for assistance with every provider on her list, and one of the agencies had already contacted her landlord about paying the past due rent.

Tina thanked the Resource Navigator for his help. She has her hands full on a normal day; since the pandemic, she doesn’t know what normal looks like anymore. She’s glad she can call 2-1-1 SEPA when her family is in need.

Follow along with our year-long #StrongerTogetherSeries as we feature insights and personal stories of the very people and bodies of work that have made us 100-years strong.

Sign-up for our mailing list

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.