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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Every year on Feb. 11, United Way organizations in Massachusetts and across the country celebrate 2-1-1 Day to raise awareness of this important public service. Everyone knows the three-digit number to call in an emergency, but some Bay Staters may not be aware of the simple number they can dial for health and human-service assistance.

Mass2-1-1 provides telephone and web information and referral service for residents of the Commonwealth 24/7/365. Trained 2-1-1 information and referral specialists connect callers to thousands of human-service organizations, including providers for food programs, housing and emergency shelter, elder care, physical and mental-health services, childcare resources, drug and alcohol services, utility assistance, and victim services. It is also activated when needed for emergencies and disasters.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mass2-1-1 Day celebration will be held virtually on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 2:11 p.m. The public is invited to attend and can do so by clicking this link to attend virtually via Zoom. The meeting ID is 972 0171 7774, and the passcode is 257168.

Several notable attendees and long-time supporters of Mass2-1-1 will be in attendance, including Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, state Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis, Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper, Mass2-1-1 Executive Director Paul Mina, Mass2-1-1 Vice President and Call2Talk Director Eileen Davis, as well as Mass2-1-1 board members and Call2Talk volunteer call takers.

“Dialing 2-1-1 from a landline or cell phone provides residents of Massachusetts with free, confidential referral services and is easy to use,” Davis said. “Mass2-1-1 is available in all 14 counties across the state and offers translation in over 150 languages. This is a critical service every day, but moreso now while the pandemic continues to impact every aspect of our daily lives.”

Added Mina, “our Mass2-1-1 team, in partnership with MEMA and the Department of Public Health, have done an outstanding job answering calls non-stop since the Governor’s Command Center activated Mass2-1-1 to answer COVID-19 calls last March. More than 200,000 COVID-19 calls have been answered from across Massachusetts since that time, while close to a thousand calls continue to come in daily. When people need up-to-date, accurate information, they can count on Mass2-1-1 to be there.”

Call2Talk, the mental-health helpline of Mass2-1-1, is also celebrating the grand opening of its new call center, located at the United Way of Pioneer Valley offices in Springfield. The office, which began taking calls in mid-September, is open to assist residents within the 413 area code. Trained volunteer call takers help callers move from a place of emotional crisis to a calmer state by providing non-judgmental listening, comfort, and encouragement. Sarno and Cooper will join the United Way and Mass2-1-1 leadership to cut the ribbon to officially launch the new call center.

“The new Call2Talk call center will better serve the local community and expand capacity by providing resources, 24/7, for those going through troubling times,” Davis said.

Call2Talk answers calls through the Mass2-1-1 statewide platform as well as answering calls from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained volunteers answer calls and provide confidential and often life-saving support to people experiencing emotional distress or potential suicidal ideation and have nowhere else to turn. Call2Talk also works in partnership with Crisis Text Line to provide support by text for those uncomfortable with speaking to a call taker. Anyone needing emotional support can call Call2Talk directly at (413) 505-5111.

COVID-19 Daily News

BOSTON — On April 24, Mass2-1-1 and its Call2Talk emotional-support and suicide-prevention hotline reached more than 50,000 calls regarding COVID-19. Mass2-1-1 is a program created and staffed by the United Ways of Massachusetts and designated by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency as the official hotline for COVID-19.

“All of us at United Way and Mass2-1-1 are proud of our Mass2-1-1 and Call2Talk call takers for doing such an outstanding job over these last 50,000 COVID-19-related calls from the citizens of the Commonwealth,” said Paul Mina, executive director of Mass2-1-1. “As time goes on, calls are becoming much more stressful and emotional, so stay strong, team!”

Any resident of Massachusetts with questions about COVID-19 or needs such as unemployment or food caused by the pandemic can call 2-1-1 at any time, from any phone in Massachusetts, in more than 150 languages.