As the number of COVID-19 cases increases and work schedules are cut, the 211 Maryland United Way Helpline’s call volume has skyrocketed as Marylanders call either with questions about the virus and where to get tested, or to seek help to cover basic expenses, like rent or mortgage, food, utility bills, and healthcare. To deal with the influx of calls, United Way of Central Maryland has created the COVID-19 Community Fund, which will support the 211 team, who operate on the frontlines of providing help and resources to those in need.
On March 16 alone, 211 received 3 calls every minute from Marylanders seeking answers during this time of uncertainty. Below is a breakdown of the greatest needs in our community based on the calls:
· 36 percent – food assistance, including food pantries, fresh food, SNAP/food stamp issues
· 25 percent – medical needs, including health education and community clinics
· 8 percent – financial assistance with utilities and rent
With the Governor, Health Department, and other local leaders directing the community to call 211, the call specialists need additional capacity on the 211 lines. 211 call specialists work 24/7, 365 days a year to connect people with the services they need most, including financial assistance as a result of lost wages due to event cancellations, business closures, and quarantines. To assist the 211 team, visit http://www.uwcm.org/covidhelp. The situation is changing hourly, which is why the Community Fund will continue to evolve as needs are assessed.
Additionally, 211 is seeking case manager and social worker volunteers to help with the influx of calls. Visit the following link to learn more about volunteering: http://www.uwcm.org/covidhelp. For more information or to speak with a United Way spokesperson about the work United Way is doing in this unprecedented time, please feel free to reach me at (443) 844-0754.