BY JULIA NGUYEN | April 28, 2022
Since 1928, the Santa Barbara Foundation has facilitated the easing of access to programs and services that work to uplift the communities of Santa Barbara County. Connecting these services to those who need them most, creates an opportunity for growth and development for our communities and our nonprofit organizations. 211 Santa Barbara County Program has been a hub for doing just that.
“The purpose of 211 is to have a centralized access point for our community where individuals can call 24/7 in over 150 languages,” said Elisa Pardo of CommUnify, a nonprofit organization that administers 211 and works collaboratively with the community to find innovative solutions to assist Santa Barbara County residents in living healthy, resilient, and financially secure lives.
During disasters, including wildfires, mudslides, and the COVID-19 pandemic, 211 Santa Barbara County operates as an extended arm of the Office of Emergency Management of Santa Barbara County to provide up-to-date incident related information.
“How it works is anybody can dial 211 and connect to a live call specialist who will navigate the variety of resources that exist within Santa Barbara County during disasters,” Elisa explains.
Elisa has helped the program grow since CommUnify took over the 211 program back in 2014. Elisa and the CommUnify team have continuingly worked to keep their services up-to-date so the service providers have the available capacity to serve the community.
The 211 program is not just for disasters, however, and seeks to update and expand their program contact list. During the pandemic, the program saw an increase of calls and need for support from the community. According to the 211 Program’s 2021 Annual Data Report, 12,258 calls and texts were made for COVID-19 support and over 14,000 resources were provided through 211’s live call specialist.
Based on the services provided, the callers’ top needs were health care, housing, and mental health/addiction services.
“We want to make sure that all of the appropriate Health and Human Services agencies are listed in 211,” said Kemba Lawrence, CommUnify’s Community Service Director.
To include or update your service information in the 211 line, visit 211santabarbaracounty.org/for-agencies/.
To learn more about CommUnify’s 211 program, visit 211santabarbaracounty.org/.