The United Way of Kershaw County (UWKC), partnered with South Carolina 2-1-1, has established a local 2-1-1 service now available to Kershaw County residents.
The service is accredited by the Alliance of Information Referral Systems.
South Carolina 2-1-1 is a phone database of a national service connecting callers to agencies that can meet needs for food, shelter, housing, clothing and medical services.
The service is free, confidential and can be reached by dialing 2-1-1 -- 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Calls to 2-1-1 made from Kershaw County phones will be directed to UWKC staff members Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Calls made outside these hours will be sent to United Way of South Carolina staff members.
UWKC President Donny Supplee wanted to localize the service before bringing it to Kershaw County.
"We spent almost one year in getting to this point … we wanted this to be local" said Supplee of the South Carolina 2-1-1 service.
Supplee believes that a localized 211 service better assists callers because the UWKC staff members answering the phones are familiar with the local area and agencies.
"We want to be able to identify what the needs in the community are and connect those needs to resources," said Supplee.
After a caller is referred to an agency, the UWKC suggests that they verify the operation hours of the agency, create a list of needed items to bring to an agency appointment, closely follow agency instructions and bring a government approved picture ID.
In addition to matching community members with resources, the database will also help local agencies.
"We think that this will benefit the agencies as well. We hope to help people know where to go and reduce unnecessary phone calls to the agencies" said UWKC staff member Maria Spring.
The information in the South Carolina 2-1-1 database is gathered from information provided by agenicies.
Supplee, Spring and Molly Kornegay of the UWKC encourage local agencies to contact them about updating information, including volunteer needs.
"We want to know if agencies have any volunteer needs, 211 can help with that … People can (also) call us regularly to see where they can volunteer," said Kornegay.
Over time, UWKC staff members plan to collect data about the needs of the community based on the phone calls received.
If an agency would like to know if they could be included in the 2-1-1 database, they can call the United Way of Kershaw County for more information.
Multilingual 2-1-1 services are also available. For more information about this service, visit www.sc211.org.