Nancy Szocinski's phone has been ringing a lot more these days as more people in need seek assistance.
"Our calls are up 50 percent," said Szocinski, the coordinator of the United Way of the CSRA's 211 information and referral service. "This has the potential to be the biggest 211 year."
Through 211, Szocinski and her staff can link people in need with those who can help.
"The biggest need is for utility bills," she said. "Others ask for rent or mortgage assistance. There's an uptick in requests for homeless services and food assistance."
The telephone number 211 is a nationally designated number. It has been available in the Augusta area since February 2004.
In 2007, there were 10,300 calls to the service.
"Already we are close to 15,000," she said.
Although the number of calls has been rising, Szocinski said she knows many people are still unaware of the service.
She is often called on to speak for the United Way and asks the groups how many have heard of 211. Many acknowledge never having heard of it.
The 211 service can provide links to mental health services, substance abuse programs, job assistance, and children, youth and family programs.
As the numbers of those in need rises, the need for donations to the programs also rise.
"An unknown to many is they can also give through 211," she said.
Szocinski has a staff of two full-time employees and an Americorps VISTA worker.
Szocinski said that the number doesn't always work on a cell phone. In those cases, an alternate number for the service is (706) 826-1495.
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