2-1-1 Maine, through support from the United Ways of Maine and the State of Maine, is making it easier for Maine residents to find and access basic needs assistance and other services and supports by adding text capability.

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Mainers can now text their zip code to “898-211” (TXT-211) and automatically connect with a friendly Maine-based Information Specialist. The Specialist will ask the person texting what services they are looking for and provide them information and referrals via text to supports in their area.

2-1-1 Maine is a free and confidential service that helps people find local resources they need. Since 2006, Mainers have been able to find health and human services in their area by contacting 2-1-1 Maine.

“People reach out to 2-1-1 Maine daily for all kinds of services," said Sherry Locke, 2-1-1 Maine Board Member and Executive Director of United Way of Aroostook. . "In 2016 alone, 2-1-1 Maine received over 41,000 calls from people looking for services in Maine. Over 1,000 of those calls originated from Aroostook County,” The fact that lots of people have limited phone minutes and unlimited texting, combined with the preference of many to text instead of call, encouraged us to explore ways for people to access information via texting.”

Everyday, Information Specialists help people find assistance for issues such as financial problems, substance use disorders, support needs for older adults, as well as healthcare and legal services. “While some things can be found using an internet search, there are many times when people need more than that; they need a conversation,” Locke continued. “At United Way, we believe a comprehensive approach to health is needed to help people begin and sustain healthy lives. Through partnerships with the State and our community partners, we are able to support services like 2-1-1 Maine that connect people to information for services that will assist them to increase independence.”

Information Specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by texting a zip code to 898-211 or by dialing 2-1-1 or going to 211.org. 2-1-1 Maine follows other 2-1-1 centers nationally who implemented a text function to their service and have seen an increase in overall utilization.

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