Residents of five parishes in southwestern Louisiana have a 24/7 source for getting answers to questions on coping with the coronavirus pandemic.
The 211 helpline run by the United Way of Southwest Louisiana (UWSWLA) connects community members with trained, multilingual specialists who have the latest on local health and human services programs.
Since mid-March, more than 68,000 residents have turned to 211 for help in finding food, paying bills, getting tested for COVID-19 and filling out unemployment forms. UWSWLA partners with the Louisiana Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure the accuracy of all information shared through 211 and a companion text service 898-211.
These services are also an effective way to gauge emerging needs. “When callers alerted us that a hot meal program had closed, we were able to ramp up a replacement in two days by working with other agencies,” says UWSWLA President and CEO Denise Durel.
The 211 helpline is one of the many ways UWSWLA is helping its neighbors cope with the pandemic. Now, Bechtel Group Foundation is helping the nonprofit do more with a $40,000 donation to the UWSWLA Coronavirus Response Fund, which will support individual and families struggling with economic issues. Says Denise, “We are deeply concerned for those who already struggle financially, particularly hourly employees and others who don’t have jobs that offer paid sick days or the option to work from home.”
The donation comes from the new Bechtel COVID-19 Relief Fund, which was created to support charities in the company’s office and project locations worldwide. The Bechtel team at the Sabine Pass Liquefaction project in Cameron Parish recommended USSWLA for the special gift.
“In times like these, our commitment to supporting the communities where we live and operate, in particular local organizations and charities, is stronger than ever,” said Maurissa Douglas Rogers, the Bechtel senior project manager who gave UWSWLA the good news about the gift.