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So ... what's the 211?

A better number to call for non-emergency assistance calls in state

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March 09, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Do you need help, but not immediate police, fire or medical aid? Local emergency services hope you won't call 911.

Instead, there's a fairly new number available statewide to link people to a wide range of social services — 211. It links to an extensive (but incomplete) database, also available online at www.mass211help.org, covering almost anything from "accessible housing" to "youth programs."

"You want people to instantly think this is the number," said Bonnie LoSavio, director of Southbridge's United Way branch. "… You can call it when you've reached the end of your rope or when you feel the first pinch [of need]."

The number connects callers to trained staff who can direct them to nearby services provided by nonprofit groups or government agencies. In a disaster situation, it will also provide information such as shelter availability and help coordinate local response with the Mass. Emergency Management Agency.

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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