A day in the life of an information and referral specialist at 2-1-1 Maryland

By Kate Schulz

Mandy A. of Baltimore City suffers from chronic COPD and mental health issues. On Thursdays, her son usually travels from Washington D.C. to take care of her and bring her groceries. However, a couple weeks ago, he was unable to go due to impending Hurricane Sandy.

Mandy was almost out of food for the week, unable to travel herself, and wasn’t sure what to do.

Kate, one of 2-1-1 Maryland at United Way of Central Maryland’s Information and Referral Specialists, assists a caller by assessing their needs and providing useful referrals and resources.

Fortunately, 2-1-1 Maryland was there for her. Mandy’s goddaughter called 2-1-1 on her behalf and was able to get the information and referrals she needed. A city worker brought Mandy enough food to last her for several days and she didn’t have to go hungry during the storm.

My name is Kate Schulz and this is just one story of how I help as an information and referral specialist at 2-1-1 Maryland at United Way of Central Maryland.

2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember phone number that links people to the health and human services they need.

This confidential information and referral service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in 150 languages. Call specialists like me assess callers’ needs and get them to the right solutions using a comprehensive database of more than 4,600 federal, state and local services — both government and nonprofit.

Think about an unexpected situation that could happen to any of us – maybe a house fire or job loss. Would you know what to do next and where to turn?

2-1-1 is always there to help.

Jared, who lives in Anne Arundel County with his wife and two kids, lost his job last year.

Jared called 2-1-1 to seek assistance paying his bills, as his unemployment benefits had recently run out. He and his family were struggling financially and during the call, Jared was able to get even more help than he came looking for.

The 2-1-1 call specialist not only helped him with finding assistance to pay his bills, but also discussed other resources to address his most basic needs, like rental assistance, food stamps and job training to help him with finding a new job.

On an average day last fall, we received between 260 and 350 calls from people in our community who need help – often urgently. The calls that my colleagues and I handle can be both heartbreaking and heartwarming. What helps us stay strong are the stories of hope that emerge.

I am proud to work for United Way of Central Maryland. UWCM’s mission is to mobilize the community to improve people’s lives, especially the most vulnerable members of our community – primarily families and individuals living at or below the poverty level. Every day, we help ensure that basic human services are available to people who need them in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.

Do you need help? Call 2-1-1 or dial 1.800.492.0618. A trusted and caring call specialist is there for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

1 Comment

  1. Hello There Kate,

    I’m the Communications Specialist here at the Welch Medical Library and I loved your post. will post it on our FB page and twitter. Thanks for sharing. ‘Go get ’em!