People with emergencies dial 911, but for pretty much any other reason, anybody can call 211, said Asheville Call Center Director Amanda Bauman.
“There’s basically no wrong reason to call us,” Bauman said to the Haywood County Board of Commissioners at last week’s meeting. “We’re always available, we’re always a friendly voice, and we’re always there to help talk through whatever is going on, because a lot of times people call about one need, and it emerges into a lot of other needs.”
North Carolina 211 is funded by the United Way nonprofit, and serves as a free, confidential health and human services referral line, available in any language, 24 hours a day, every day of the year, Bauman said.
“We never know why somebody is going to call us,” Bauman said. “We have extensive training and an array of backgrounds — social work, mental health, counseling — you name it, we’ve done it.”
For questions about flu shots, bus routes, affordable housing, and any other health or human service that may be available in North Carolina, 211 has answers.
“We’re local,” Bauman said. “All of our people live local, and we know the area like nobody else knows it.”
Asheville hosts the Western North Carolina 211 call center, which serves the 16 westernmost counties, while a center in Durham handles the rest of the state.
In 2019, N.C. 211 received 132,000 calls, 28,000 of which came from Western North Carolina, with 650 of those being Haywood County callers.
Top needs among 2019 Haywood County callers included electric service payment assistance, information about homeless shelters, rent payment assistance, home rental listings, food pantries, general legal aid, crisis intervention hotlines and community clinics, Bauman said.
“You’re like Google, with a person on the other end,” said Chairman Kevin Ensley.
For more information about the service, dial 211.