Everyone knows the three-digit number to call in an emergency, but some Bay Staters may not be aware of the simple number they can dial for health and human service assistance, 2-1-1.

Mass 211 provides telephone and web information and referral service for residents of the Commonwealth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Trained 2-1-1 Information and Referral Specialists connect callers to thousands of human service organizations. This includes providers for food programs, housing and emergency shelter, elder care, physical and mental health services, childcare resources, drug and alcohol services, utility assistance, victim services, and at times, is activated when needed for emergencies and disasters.

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In March of 2020, Mass 211 was designated the official COVID-19 resource and referral line for residents by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Association. Callers can find information on testing vaccinations and essential resources. In 2020, Mass 211 fielded over 100,000 calls related to COVID-19. 11,181 calls from residents in Greater New Bedford.

“Mass 211 has been an invaluable resource in our region for many years,” Michelle N. Hantman, President and CEO of United Way of Greater New Bedford said. “During the pandemic, they provided our residents with up-to-date information on food pantries, child care, financial assistance programs, and COVID-19 resources released by the state and the CDC. We are a proud partner of Mass 2-1-1 and are thankful to the many call takers who have worked tirelessly this past year.”

Mass 211 also offers a mental health helpline, Call2Talk. Call2Talk answers calls through the Mass 211 statewide platform as well as answering calls from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Highly-trained volunteer call-takers answer calls and provide confidential and oftentimes lifesaving support to people experiencing emotional distress or potential suicidal ideation and have nowhere else to turn. Call2Talk also works in partnership with Crisis Text Line to provide support by text for those uncomfortable with speaking to a call taker.

Mass 211 is made possible by local United Ways and the state of Massachusetts. To learn more about the United Way of Greater New Bedford, Mass211, or Call2Talk, please visit unitedwayofgnb.org and Mass211.org.

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