Content from the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS), August newsletter. AIRS is the national accrediting body for Information and Referral call centers like ours.
NC 2-1-1 - Asheville is a comprehensive information and referral line based in Asheville, North Carolina. It is a key strategy of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County (UWABC), a nonprofit organization that has provided information and referral services since 1972. Originally known as First Call for Help, the service transitioned to 2-1-1 services for Buncombe County in 2001. In the following years, UWABC began contracting with neighboring county United Ways (or other local partners) to provide 2-1-1 service regionally. In 2012, the 2-1-1 at UWABC became a formal partner in the United Way of North Carolina's 2-1-1 system. As of July 2015, NC 2-1-1 - Asheville serves a 16-county region in Western North Carolina with a population of over 758,000. This is NC 2-1-1 – Asheville's 4th AIRS accreditation.
NC 2-1-1 - Asheville is the only comprehensive I&R in the service area. There are a number of specialized I&Rs, such as the aging and disability resource centers for seniors and for people living with disabilities, child care resource and referral programs and specialized I&R for veterans' services. NC 2-1-1 - Asheville partners closely with service providers by positioning the 2-1-1 service as a companion piece to their work. NC 2-1-1 - Asheville builds relationships with service providers through cooperative service delivery, participation in health and human service coalitions, attendance of outreach events and community trainings. NC 2-1-1 – Asheville community resource specialists provide information and referral as well as advocacy and crisis intervention services and follow-up with callers. Community resource specialists are the heart of the 2-1-1 service and the backbone is the resource database that includes detailed, accurate information about non-profit and government services.
In addition to handling calls, specialists respond to email inquiries from those in need as well as meet with people who may benefit from in-person contact. The resource database is also accessible via a public website. NC 2-1-1 - Asheville serves as a community information resource by providing aggregate data about caller needs and area resources as well as the gaps between what people need and the services that are available.
UWABC's vision - a strong, caring community where residents are educated, financially stable and healthy - is the guiding framework for NC 2-1-1 - Asheville's work. UWABC's strategic plan includes a strategic goal to strengthen the quality and breadth of NC 2-1-1 services to Western North Carolina residents in conjunction with United Way of North Carolina.
As part of the statewide system of NC 2-1-1, NC 2-1-1 – Asheville serves on the leadership team of NC 2-1-1 and was part of the team that responded to Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. This team developed an online rescue protocol used during the response to Hurricane Florence. This protocol won the 2019 inaugural AIRS I&R Innovation Award for Disaster Preparedness and best Innovation Award overall.