211 Windsor-Essex celebrates five years of community information and referral services

211 Windsor-Essex celebrated its fifth anniversary today and welcomed a host of staff and community partners to the call centre to mark the occasion. 211’s information and referral services were launched to the residents of Windsor and Essex County in late 2007.

Highlights of their first half decade of service include taking over 4,000 calls as the community’s H1N1 hotline in 2009; partnering with Stay Cool Windsor-Essex in 2011 to provide information on how to stay cool and safe during the sweltering Southwest Ontario summer; and partnering with Windsor-Essex County Health Unit in 2012 to share flu-related data; in addition to numerous staff members attaining Alliance of Information & Referral Systems (AIRS) certification through the years.

To capture the range of topics 211 can help address via their information and referral services, this real example of calls taken in a half-hour span by one of our local specialists can provide a glimpse. In 30 minutes …

•    1 family needed children’s winter coats
•    1 person’s gas was being turned off
•    2 people called for information
•    2 people wanted to donate goods
•    1 person registered for an event
•    2 people didn’t know where to turn
•    1 person was prevented from going to the wrong service location
•    1 follow-up call was scheduled

In addition to regular day-to-day referral services like those noted above, 211 is also the region’s call centre in times of community emergency. And, since 2010, our local call centre has been serving the entire Southwest Ontario region.

“Five years goes by so quickly,” says 211 Project Manager Jennifer Tanner. “But when you stop for a moment and look back, it’s truly humbling to think of how much we’ve accomplished and how much we’ve learned about helping the residents of Windsor, Essex County and the entire region.”

The date of February 11 was chosen for the anniversary celebration due to its appropriate numeric significance (i.e. 2/11), a date which will also sees other 211 events taking place around the country. For example, 211 Nova Scotia was introduced on the same day, with a local connection: their project team engaged our Windsor-Essex staff for assistance on a number of occasions during their research and development phase.

For more information, please call 211 (alternate 519-258-0247), toll-free 1-866-686-0045, or TTY 1-866-488-9311. Visit 211 online at www.211ontario.ca. Email questions to info@211southwestontario.ca.