The Aloha United Way recently launched a statewide telephone hotline for Hawai’i residents in need of social service programs, and also for those wishing to volunteer their talents.
The free and confidential service is offered to the public seeking information or assistance pertaining to health and human services, and is accessed by dialing 211.
The hotline is managed by locally trained information and referral specialists who refer callers to 1,700 agencies and 4,000 services, including federal, state and local government agencies, community-based and private nonprofit organizations in Hawai’i.
The service is staffed seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Hawai’i is the second state to offer the 211 service, which among other things is hoped to take many of the non-emergency calls away from 911 emergency operators.
The Honolulu Police Department 911 line gets over one million calls a year, and around 60 percent of those calls are non-emergencies.
The Federal Communications Commission has set aside 211 as the universal number for accessing information about community resources.
Self-guided access to the 211 database is available at the Aloha United Way’s Web site, www.auw.org.
The 211 system has access for the hearing impaired through local telecommunications relay services, and language translation services can be provided as needed.