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Clarion County Welcomes 2-1-1 for Health and Human Service Calls

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 02:05 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

Commissioners 2018CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Clarion County Commissioners and the United Way of Clarion County Tuesday morning announced their commitment to bring PA 2-1-1 services to local residents and central access to health human services information in the county.

[PHOTO: Commissioners Ed Heasley, Ted Tharan, and Wayne Brosius]

Commissioners Ted Tharan, Wayne Brosius, and Ed Heasley approved the commitment at their regularly scheduled meeting. Clarion County will pay $5,000.00, and the local United Way will contribute $5,000.00 to meet the annual costs of the 2-1-1 service.

Similar in design to 9-1-1, 2-1-1 is a free, confidential referral and information helpline and website that connects people from all communities and of all ages to the essential health and human services they need, 24 hours a day, seven days per week. The number can be accessed by phone or computer.

“We have been working toward 2-1-1 coverage for Clarion County for over six years,” said Melissa Fulton, executive director of United Way of Clarion County. “Their commitment today shows how dedicated they are in making long-lasting positive changes in the communities they serve. A small nonprofit organization, United Way of Clarion County, could not tackle such a large project without support from our local leaders. Thank you.”

According to Fulton, 2-1-1 is for health and human services in Clarion County. At this point, 2-1-1 covers over 90 percent of the country.

“In Clarion County we are one of two counties (in Pennsylvania) not covered, and is not limited by one agency or organization and every community organization that provides a service will be able to have their services listed.”

Venango County came on board last spring, and Jefferson County recently joined and both are making really making a difference on how information on services are getting to residents, according to Fulton.

Tharan admitted the commissioners were at first cool toward the services, but after they learned more about 2-1-1, they warmed to the idea.

“Melissa is the backbone to all of this, and it’s a great benefit to the county, and I want to thank Melissa and the Clarion County United Way for stepping up,” said Heasley.

Although callers only have to remember one number, a database on health and human services will be maintained by United Way that is incorporated into the system.

“During the daytime, our calls will actually be going into the Venango County Call Center,” explained Fulton about who answers the calls. “During non-traditional hours calls will be routed either through Butler County Call Center or Allegheny County Call Center. There are times just because technology demands, they may be answered by a different call center because they are all linked together.”

Erich Spessard, United Way board president, and Clarion County Chief Public Defender, considers PA 2-1-1 an essential service, especially for rural communities.

“On a daily basis, regular people are struggling for help, who don’t know where to get it, or that is even available for their situation,” said Spessard. “Clarion County is filled with people, agencies, and organizations who can and want to make a positive difference.  PA 2-1-1 will help make those connections when people need them most.”

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