You’ve lost your job, your unemployment benefits are running out, and you’re worried about paying the mortgage. You are a family of five and you don’t know what to do. Who do you call for help?

Or, your teenage son hasn’t been acting himself lately. He’s erratic, sleeping later than ever before, and you’re worried he might be abusing drugs or alcohol. Where can you turn for advice?

Thankfully in McHenry County, we have a free service that residents can turn to, and it is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It also is as simple as tapping three digits on your phone: 211.

Launched in 2013 with funding from the United Way of Greater McHenry County, the 211 call center provides easy access to nearly 400 health and human services in the area.

In need of affordable day care options? Dial 211. Wondering whether there’s anyone out there who can help with utility payments? Dial 211. Severely depressed and don’t know where to turn? Dial 211.

The center is staffed around the clock by trained individuals who are familiar with the area’s service providers. Call 211, and the operator on the other end will get the information needed to make a referral to one or more of those providers.

Since its debut, housing support, rent payment help and utility support have been the top reasons area residents have dialed 211. The 211 center has averaged between 200 and a little more than 300 calls every three months, but there is a concern it is being underutilized.

At just a few years old, the 211 program still is relatively new. In addition to the United Way, it’s also financially supported locally by Intren, a Union-based company, and the McHenry County Community Foundation.

Help spread the word about 211 in your community, and don’t hesitate to call if there’s ever a need.

Article sourced from Northwest Herald.