February 6, 2019

United Way’s 2-1-1 helps 2,300 Metro Detroiters during cold weather snap

United Way 2-1-1 helpline operator

United Way’s 2-1-1 is there to answer the call—24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

When an emergency strikes, United Way’s 2-1-1 is there to answer the call.

An extreme cold spell at the end of January saw temperatures drop to life-threatening levels. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency, and several Metro Detroit municipalities activated resources like setting up temporary warming centers and free bus rides to help those in need.

And through it all, thanks to United Way’s 2-1-1 helpline, those in danger had a place to turn for help.

More than 2,300 people helped

Calls, emails and chat requests to United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s 2-1-1 helpline increased significantly during the extreme winter weather.

“Our community care advocates were ready for the task,” said Kristen Bolds, 2-1-1 Operations Director. “They connected those struggling to handle the frigid temperatures with emergency shelter, free rides to warming facilities, utility assistance and more.”

Our 2-11 team referred twice as many people to extreme weather shelters last week as they did the week prior. Overall, calls to 2-1-1 increased by 24 percent, with a total of 2,320 people seeking assistance.

More than 600 of those callers were connected with information about the Michigan Energy Assistance Program and related utility assistance programs available through our partners DTE Energy and Consumers Energy. Click here to learn more utility assistance programs.

2-1-1 offers year-round assistance

United Way’s 2-1-1 isn’t just for emergencies caused by inclement weather.

Our helpline services a six-county area in southeastern Michigan and helps nearly 200,000 people each year. The service is available any time, day or night, every day of the year. Individuals and families in need can connect with us by dialing 2-1-1 from any phone, or by using email and chat options available through our website.

In addition to emergency resources, our 2-1-1 customer care advocates connect those in need with many other services, too. This includes a database of more than 15,000 resources, from income support to food assistance to clothing and much more.

“Every single day, we’re there to answer the call,” Kristen said.