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211 takes more cold calls in brutal weather

Impact 211 is helping people during this stretch of extreme temperatures.
Posted at 9:27 PM, Jan 25, 2019

People struggling in the bitter cold do not need to go it alone, and the Impact 211 call center is there to get help from everything to homelessness to drug addiction. But the cold has phones extra busy.

"Typical call today is looking for somewhere warm to go," said Asia Evans, Impact 211 Call Center Trainer.

Evans has answered the phone at 211 for five years. The hot-line runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The goal is to connect people with the places that can help. But Evans has been known to trouble-shoot broken furnaces during this cold.

"We help them problem solve," said Evans.

Sometimes that means helping someone turn their pilot light back on.When that doesn't work 211 can get people emergency furnace repairs, if they qualify. Bob Waite, Impact 211 senior account manager, said people often call and tell them they are using an oven to try to keep warm.

"That is one of the first things we ask, are you doing that? Are you using an unsafe means to heat your home? If you are doing that please stop. We'll make sure we get somebody connected to you to make sure you are safe. Some of these organizations will even deliver space heaters to those homes," said Waite.

Impact 211 serves the entire southeastern Wisconsin region. They says the cold also brings in more calls for basic needs like food, clothes and housing. It usually is because an unexpectedly high heating bill or emergency car repair is too much for some families.

"We get people calling in requesting assistant for complete strangers they have seen on the streets, we get them calling in about themselves, family members. Either way we are still giving them that information to get them out of the cold. Keep them warm tonight," said Evans.

Besides dialing 211, you can text your zip code to 898-211. There is also a toll-free number 1-866-211-3380. Or you can message online by clicking here.