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United Way Awarded $2.4M for 211 Helpline Network 

From left, Lini Jacob, Sherry Laguna, Cassandra Rajcumar, Sen. Peter Harckham, Community Resource Specialist Charlie, Community Resource Specialist Elysel, Norma Pereira-Gross, and Tom Gabriel

BCW Member United Way of Westchester and Putnam announced this week that the State Legislature has awarded $2.4 million to the state’s 211 Helpline network, operated by local United Ways, to ensure that these community resource centers continue to connect individuals with health and human service needs to the right resources.

The number of inquiries in 2021 was up 153% over 2019. Senator Peter Harckham (District 40), who represents communities in Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties, sponsored the bill into the budget. “211 is the ultimate example of shared services and public-private partnerships,” said Sen. Harckham. “It is a good investment of public dollars to make sure that someone is there to assist those in need to find the government services and nonprofit assistance available. COVID and other recent natural disasters, such as the flooding caused by Hurricane Ida, also showed how important 211 is to local and state governments for responding to disasters and emergencies.”

The $2.4 million award was a $400,000 increase over its allocation in the ‘22 NYS Budget. The increased funding will expand 211’s texting capability statewide, support 211 activations in areas experiencing a disaster and include 211 in NYS’ emergency plan, clarifying communication, messaging, and activation. The NYS 211 Network matches the legislative appropriation with $5.3 million in local grants, contracts, and fee for services agreements, including $1.3 million in local United Way investment.

“This funding will help 211 community resource centers throughout the state meet the demand from those asking for food, mortgage and rent assistance, or other basic needs, as the state deals with high inflation, food supply shortages, and eviction crisis,” said Tom Gabriel, President and CEO of United Way of Westchester and Putnam, which operates the 211 Hudson Valley & Long Island community resource center from its White Plains location. “We thank Sen. Harckham, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, and Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi for advocating for the funds and the legislative support of all the Senate and Assembly members.”

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