It's National 2-1-1 Day!

Chuck Sheketoff

It's not as well known as the 9-1-1 emergency line, but for thousands of Oregonians, calling 2-1-1 can be a life-saver.

2-1-1 is an easy to remember telephone number that connects callers to information about critical health and human services available in their communities. The United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta launched the first 2-1-1 line. It has since been taken up by United Way agencies throughout the nation.

Here in Oregon, 2-1-1 is run by 211info, who are rolling out 2-1-1 services throughout the state by the end of this month.

Unfortunately, too few know about it. I realized that when I mentioned the number recently to two friends, each of whom had family members who needed to be connected with vital human services from the public and non-profit sectors.

Fortunately, the effort to get the word out about 2-1-1 is getting a nudge here in Oregon with the world premiere at the Portland International Film Festival of the film AMERICAN WINTER, a documentary that follows the stories of eight Portland-area families struggling to survive in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Produced and directed by Emmy award-winning filmmakers Joe and Harry Gantz, AMERICAN WINTER presents a powerful portrait of our nation's economic downturn from the point of view of families in financial crisis. The filmmakers got connected with the families through 211info.

Today, Carl in the Morning opened with a short segment from the AMERICAN WINTER trailer (MP3) and then Carl talked at length with Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish (MP3) about the movie and the issues it raises.

Starting on March 18, more people throughout the nation will learn about the 2-1-1 system when the film AMERICAN WINTER begins playing on HBO (See HBO AMERICAN WINTER schedule here).

2-1-1 – Remember it and spread the word about 2-1-1 (contact them by phone or at, a vital service for people in our community who’ve fallen in hard times. It’s a lifeline.

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at

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