Gurnee pledges $10,000 to support United Way's proposed 2-1-1 service

Posted10/9/2018 5:37 AM

The Gurnee village board pledged Monday night to contribute $10,000 to United Way of Lake County's new "2-1-1" service, a hotline to connect people to health and human resources.

United Way representative Deanna Olmem told the village board that the United Way runs 2-1-1 centers across the country so people in need have an easy-to-remember number to call when they are struggling. The operators at 2-1-1 centers will connect callers with the agency or organization that would be best able to help.


Olmem said that the operators try to get to the root of the issue when speaking with callers. The person might call to try to find where he or she can find food and the operator may discover through conversation that the underlying issue is that the caller has recently lost a job or is experiencing homelessness.

Mayor Kristina Kovarik said she and many other village officials have gotten phone calls from residents who are struggling and have problems that the village isn't equipped to help with. Kovarik said there are also residents who don't call for help and their situation becomes a crisis that is much more difficult to deal with once it has happened.

Olmem said Chicago is the only major metropolitan area in the country that doesn't have 100 percent 2-1-1 coverage yet. She said United Way representatives are going around Lake County making connections with municipalities and organizations.

Olmem said the United Way have received enough funds to cover 84 percent of the first year of expenses.

The Gurnee village board voted unanimously to contribute $10,000 to the program.

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"People who can ought to help people who need, this is our opportunity," Trustee Greg Garner said.

Kovarik said Gurnee is one of the first villages that United Way has presented to, and she said it will likely be among the first of many to help.

Olmem said United Way will be before the Lake County Board tonight, and if that government decide to contribute as well, the first year would be nearly 100 percent funded. She said United Way won't launch 2-1-1 until the first year is fully funded and the second year is half funded.

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