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Help is a phone call away with 2-1-1 Big Bend

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

Everyone knows that the number to call in case of any kind of emergency is 9-1-1. That number can put you in touch with law enforcement, fire, or emergency medical services. However, what can a person do if they need rent or housing assistance, food assistance, or even mental health services? In the Big Bend area of north Florida (which includes Madison and Jefferson Counties), one can simply dial 2-1-1 in order to find help.

2-1-1 Big Bend exists in order to “provide assessment, emotional support, crisis assistance, education, training, and referrals with accurate, up-to-date resource information.” 2-1-1 Big Bend accomplishes this by matching callers with the appropriate service organization that could best meet the needs of the caller.

According to a snapshot of calls received by 2-1-1 Big Bend; during the month of November, 2016, 2-1-1 Big Bend received a total of 1,422 calls (20 of these calls came from Madison County, 20 came from Jefferson County). From these calls, a total of 1,629 total referrals were offered (some callers receive more than one referral). The most commonly offered referral was to the Capital Area Community Action Agency, which received 117 referrals. A few of the other agencies to whom callers were referred included: The Salvation Army, The Big Bend Homeless Coalition, America's Second Harvest, The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, the Florida Dept. of Children and Families, and many more.

During the month of November, the most common need requested was for mental health services, dealing with anxiety, depression, loneliness, stress, etc. There were 450 calls requesting mental health services. Many callers request more than one service. Other service requests included: situational adjustment, utilities assistance, medical/dental assistance, rent/housing assistance, food assistance, emergency shelter, substance abuse, legal services, abuse/neglect, and suicide, just to name a few.

There is never any charge for the services offered by 2-1-1 Big Bend. 2-1-1 Big Bend receives help from individual donors, as well as support from the United Way of the Big Bend. For more information on 2-1-1 Big Bend, visit their website at

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