When seeking life-critical resources, just dial 2-1-1. Throughout the pandemic, the political and social protests, Tropical Storm ETA, and the many personal crises experienced in 2020, the staff of 211 Tampa Bay Cares was available 24/7. The helpline serves Pinellas County residents without fail. Last year, more than 120,000 calls and text messages from those seeking assistance came in at 211 Tampa Bay Cares. The Clearwater-based service is a helpline and referral source for Pinellas County and areas around the bay, helping hundreds of thousands of residents in crisis.
Think of us as a lifeline connecting people to resources to help in difficult times. Micki Thompson, President and CEO, 211 Tampa Bay Cares
It is no surprise that in March 2020, the call volume increased 40% while text messages soared by 166% from the previous March.
“People continue to be stressed financially and emotionally, especially with the ongoing pandemic,” said Micki, pointing to a client who was a health care worker needing free transportation to her job at a long-term health care facility. The helpline also assisted a Pinellas County grandmother whose car repairs and caregiving for a disabled grandchild left her unable to pay her water bill. The stories of help and gratitude are many.
The 211 Cares staff of 48 gives hope to thousands through services like suicide prevention, the homeless helpline, adult financial assistance, veterans’ support assistance, and more. A $10,000 grant from the Pinellas Community Foundation, awarded consistently for more than 20 years, helps cover operating costs. The funding is especially vital as calls escalate as a result of COVID-19 to the Pinellas County helpline center that operates 24/7 year-round.