211 sees calls for help double amid COVID-19 pandemic, organization challenged with need

Posted at 7:51 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 20:51:15-04

Less than a week ago, Impact 211 reports they saw about 500 calls per day, but as COVID-19 throws daily life into a whirlwind, that number has since doubled. The organization's President/CEO expects call volume to keep growing.

"Our response to this is going to pale in comparison to those other disasters that we participated in," said John Hyatt, Impact 211's President/CEO.

"We had a lot of calls for formula. Hard to find. Hard to get, and you think of somebody's baby not having any food tonight. Those are tough things," said Karen Hoffmann, Director of the 211 Resource Center.

"It's hard. It's hard. And there's a real heightened level of anxiety within the community," Hoffmann said.

The staff at Impact 211 feel anxiety too. They face challenges themselves while trying to help others navigate ever-changing resources for things like food, shelter, finances, and mental health.

"It's tough. It's tough on all of us. I think we're holding in there we're doing okay. The group is amazing," said Hoffmann.

Since call volume has doubled, Hoffmann estimated about half of the time, people are reaching out to them for the first time.

Despite these uncertain times, employees continue to take calls and texts in the office and at home while maintaining social distancing.

The biggest challenge...

"Finding things for people. Everything is closing up. There aren't people available to help. A lot of things are only telephonic right now. Transportation is starting to get tough on people, food. All kinds of things," Hoffmann replied when asked about the biggest challenge.

"The number of calls has doubled by the number of people that we have taken calls hasn't doubled. People are working twice as hard," said Hyatt.

Hyatt says their organization is redeploying workers and partnering with the United Way to help with demand. Their team is urgently reaching out to donors and applying for grants to try and more funding to maintain current and new staff.

"We've been at this pace for about five days. Ten days, 15 days, 20 days to imagine that we're gonna be able to maintain this is pretty hard to imagine," said Hyatt.

Times are tough, but being able to serve and give people hope will drive Karen back to work tomorrow.

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