Ascension Wisconsin has been a longtime supporter of the United Way 2-1-1 program in central and northern Wisconsin.
From its original roots supporting Marathon County, the Wausau-based program has in recent years expanded to coordinate free, confidential information and referral services to the neighboring counties of Portage, Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas.
As the questions and concerns about COVID-19 spread, between January 1 and June 30, 2020, United Way’s 211 responded to 3,061 requests for help from Marathon County residents, providing 5,619 referrals to community services.
These services include, but are not limited to: tax preparation assistance, housing, food and meals, mental health and addiction services, COVID-19 related resources, utility assistance, and other basic needs and supportive services.
“211 has also been a vital part of our community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Patti Shafto-Carlson, community benefit coordinator at Ascension St. Clare’s Hospital. “211 has been working closely with the Marathon County Health Department to ensure residents are getting up-to-date information about local and statewide numbers and trends.”
Funding from Ascension St. Clare's Hospital at the onset of the pandemic enabled 211 to maintain staffing capacity in order to continue providing information and referral services to residents, as well as managing and maintaining resource information in the 211 database.
“This funding facilitated the need to increase local call center hours to help with the increase of calls at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the increased hours spent contacting individual programs to ensure the database accurately reflects changes in hours of operation and intake procedure due to COVID-19,” said Shafto-Carlson.