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June 26, 2009

Governor John Lynch issues proclamation in celebration of the First Anniversary of 2-1-1 NH

Concord, NH - Granite United Way and representatives of the 2-1-1 NH Partnership gathered at the Statehouse today as Governor John Lynch issued a proclamation in celebration of the First Anniversary of 2-1-1 NH, a statewide, comprehensive, information and referral helpline.

"2-1-1 is an important resource for many of our citizens, providing a one-stop resource for people to get the information and the help they need immediately. I want to thank the Granite United Way and its partners for bringing 2-1-1 to our state," Gov. Lynch said.

According to Granite United Way representative Patrick Tufts, President of Heritage United Way and managing partner for 2-1-1 NH, New Hampshire residents have dialed 2-1-1 over 22,488 times to find the help that they needed since the program launched in June of 2008. Approximately 28 % of the callers requested assistance with housing and utilities and another 22% sought temporary financial aid. Healthcare, mental health and substance abuse service inquiries make up the third largest category at 14.5%.

"People are calling with very basic needs, said Tufts. "Assistance with housing and utility payments, concerns about healthcare and the need for temporary financial aid and legal assistance indicate that people in NH are sorely feeling the effects of the economic crisis. 22,000 calls is just the tip of the ice berg," commented Tufts. "Offering an easy way to find assistance through 2-1-1 couldn't have come at a better time for our state and will help many individuals and families access the safety net of community services available to them," said Tufts. Looking back at the month-to-month data, spikes in certain seasonal need areas and the high number of calls in the "other" call category illustrates that people are accessing a wide variety of services through 2-1-1 NH. This is our primary goal for the program-to help people with their every day needs and in times of crisis."

Launched in June 2008, 2-1-1 NH provides callers with free information and referrals to thousands of health and human service programs and other community resources statewide. Any New Hampshire resident who has a need and does not know where to turn for help can simply dial 2-1-1 and a trained call specialist can direct him or her to the appropriate programs.

National 2-1-1 data indicates that at peak public awareness, 2-1-1 can expect that approximately 10% of the population in any given area will access help via 2-1-1. "While 22,488 calls is a great start, United Way and its partners have a long way to go to spread the word about this new community resource," said Major General (ret.) Joseph K. Simeone, lead volunteer for the 2-1-1 Advisory Committee. Simeone encouraged legislators and service providers to partner with United Way and make NH citizens aware of this valuable service. "Tell everyone you know, when you need help and don't know where to turn, dial 2-1-1," said Simeone.

2-1-1 NH was made possible through a unique partnership with Granite United Way and several stakeholders throughout the state, including the State of NH, Exeter Hospital, Citizens Bank Foundation, and NH Charitable Foundation. Public Service of New Hampshire stepped forward as a lead partner, offering to embed the 2-1-1 NH operation within its recently built, state-of-the-art call center in Manchester. "We recognized that we could share our technical infrastructure and expertise, and by doing so help meet the vital needs of New Hampshire citizens," noted PSNH's Paul Ramsey. "The 2-1-1 NH project is a great example of what can be accomplished when organizations around the state with different strengths and resources come together in support of a common goal."

While PSNH's contribution factors minimally into the broader scope of its operations, the company's support from United Way's perspective is enormous. "In a stand alone 2-1-1 operation, it would be difficult to replicate, and virtually impossible to sustain, the level of technology and expertise that have been made available to us through the partnership with PSNH," said Heather Aicholtz, director of the 2-1-1 NH Call Center. "We are very fortunate."

Other members of the 2-1-1 NH partnership are excited about the potential for the valuable information that 2-1-1 call data can provide. "We are excited that this initiative will provide valuable data on actual needs in the community that can help guide our region's outstanding network of not-for-profits," said Kevin Callahan, President of Exeter Hospital another lead member of the 2-1-1 NH partnership. "As a regional supporter of many front line community service providers, Exeter Hospital is keenly aware of how important and valuable information collected by the 2-1-1 initiative will be in helping to coordinate support services for our patients and the community as a whole" said Callahan.

In addition to presenting the call data, Granite United Way representatives shared their plans for Year II with the Governor and other public officials in attendance. Two main initiatives include building the capacity of 2-1-1 to serve as the primary State Emergency Hotline and a 2-1-1 Military Outreach Campaign sponsored by WMUR. Maj. Gen. William Reddel, the Adjutant General of the New Hampshire National Guard, and Nick Toumpas, Commissioner of DHHS announced the plans to partner with 2-1-1- NH on this outreach campaign for military service members, veterans and their families. NH DHHS's Bureau of Community Based Military Services in partnership with WMUR will launch a PSA campaign to encourage members of the military to access services when they need them using 2-1-1 as a way to connect to all services.

"For our state's military community, which includes more than 15,000 service members representing the National Guard, Reserves and active duty, this program makes it easier for them, and especially their families, to find help when they need it," Reddel said.

For more information about 2-1-1 NH, visit www.211nh.org or simply dial 2-1-1. If you are calling from outside of NH or if you have trouble dialing the 2-1-1 exchange directly, please report the trouble to your phone service provider and call 211 via (866) 444-4211.

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