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Alaska Governor Sean Parnell Proclaims February 11th Alaska 2-1-1 Day

Vital Service for All Alaskans, Especially in These Trying Economic Times

Anchorage, AK – In honor of the start of its fourth year of connecting Alaskans to essential community, health and human services, Governor Sean Parnell proclaimed February 11, 2011 (2/11) as Alaska 2-1-1 Day. Alaska 2-1-1 received similar support from Anchorage’s Mayor Dan Sullivan.

Alaska 2-1-1, the free, confidential and multilingual statewide health and human services information and referral system is operated by United Way of Anchorage.

More Alaskans call 2-1-1 every year from all regions of the state. This past year alone, more than 29,000 Alaskans – from Barrow to Valdez, Juneau to Kotzebue – sought help by phone or online. More than half of the calls are from Alaskans seeking help to meet their basic needs like housing, food and utilities.

“Times remain tough around Alaska, and the increased call volume to Alaska 2-1-1 certainly reflects that,” said Michele Brown, President, United Way of Anchorage. The call specialists are talking with many Alaskans who are looking for help for the first time to make ends meet. Thankfully, when so many of our fellow Alaskans are facing these challenges, they can be guided to the services they need by call specialists at Alaska 2-1-1.” The proclamations signed by Governor Parnell and Mayor Sullivan will help spread the word about this valuable service.

Alaska 2-1-1 maintains the most comprehensive community services database in the state. In addition to helping Alaskans find help, Alaska 2-1-1 tracks the type of information callers are looking for and referrals that are made. This generates another kind of data base: one that serves as a gauge of the needs present in the state – a social barometer of sorts – tracking needs and trends in real time. And the data demonstrates where services cannot keep pace with needs so that community and government service providers can plan for maximum effectiveness of the services they offer.

“We see need going up, and the resources and services necessary to meet those needs going down,” said Brown. “At United Way, we use this data to ensure that our actions will address the most pressing community needs. We know that it is critical to help families stretch their limited budgets so that they can stay housed, warm and fed, and avoid homelessness. It is considerably less expensive, and certainly less heartbreaking, to assist a family to remain financially stable in these tough times by providing rent and utility assistance to qualified families than to help them recover from homelessness. When the 2-1-1 data revealed that there were less funds available for families needing these supports, United Way launched its upcoming Walk for Warmth on February 19th to raise awareness of the problems too many of our neighbors are having and to call the community together to help address it by raising funds for utility assistance.”

To read Alaska 2-1-1’s most recent Report to the Community, visit LIVEUNITEDANCHORAGE.ORG.

Alaskans seeking help finding help can speak directly with a trained information and referral specialist by dialing 2-1-1 or 1-800-478-2221 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Alaska 2-1-1’s website is available 24/7 at www.alaska211.org.

Alaska 2-1-1’s partnership with Language Line allows information and referral specialists to communicate with limited English speaking callers in a wide variety of languages, including Russian, Korean, Tagalog, Yupik and Hmong.

Alaska 2-1-1’s operations center is located at the Municipality of Anchorage’s Emergency Operations Center, placing it in a unique position to play a critical role in responding to disaster and be used as a central communications point for disaster relief and recovery.

Alaska 2-1-1 is a private-public partnership supported by a federal appropriation through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, State of Alaska, Aging Disability Resource Centers, United Way of Anchorage, Alaska United Ways, the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska Mental HealthTrust, and Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.

For more information on Alaska 2-1-1 and to arrange interviews with Alaska 2-1-1 staff, contact Sandy McClintock at United Way of Anchorage at (907) 263-3807.

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About United Way of Anchorage

United Way of Anchorage works to advance the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all by focusing on the three key building blocks for a good life: education, income and health. The goal is to create long lasting changes that prevent problems from happening in the first place. United Way invites everyone to be part of the change. GIVE. ADVOCATE. VOLUNTEER. LIVE UNITED. Please visit LIVEUNITEDANCHORAGE.ORG.

About Alaska 2-1-1

2-1-1 is an easy to remember telephone number that connects callers to free and confidential information about a broad range of community, health and human services within their communities. Alaska 2-1-1 is operated by United Way of Anchorage. Please visit www.alaska211.org.

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