The 211 system was introduced into Pontotoc county last week, along with 13 other counties in southeastern Oklahoma. This system will allow the residents in these areas to obtain information regarding a variety of health and human service related topics, such as faith-based services and governmental agencies. Providing this new program will not only allow 911 lines to be open and available for emergency calls, which will serve our communities more efficiently, but will offer people the chance to get information they may not have otherwise known about or located.

“The callers will just have to make one call,” said Latricia Bryant, executive director of the Ada Regional United Way. “Rather than searching through the phone book, searching through a research directory, calling churches or anyone else they can think of, just dial 211 and get all of the resources that are available at one time.”

According to the, approximately 139 million Americans are covered by 211 systems throughout the United States, with 171 active 211 systems covering all or part of 32 states.

In addition to handling every day questions, the 211 system is also necessary for emergencies. People in both Texas and Louisiana called for information regarding assistance with food, housing and mental health during both hurricane Katrina and Rita. Even though a large portion of Louisiana was rendered helpless during those times, the 211 system was still up and running, offering information about help to anyone who needed it.

With that in mind, and considering that tornado season will soon be upon us, the 211 program is something southeastern Oklahoma should be proud to have.

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