For so many people in southeast Wisconsin, calling IMPACT 2-1-1 is their first step when they find themselves in crisis, and this year the organization will set a new record for the number of requests.
"The ones that come out and stick out to me are the elderly," said Anna Aldhari, the Call Center Supervisor at IMPACT 2-1-1.
Anna said the volume of calls and the demeanor of callers has been overwhelming.
"Sometimes it makes you want to cry with a caller. You got to be strong and hold back those tears and just remind the caller you’re not alone," said Anna.
However, Anna admitted there have been several times when she takes a moment to cry after a call because the person on the other end calls in tears.
IMPACT 2-1-1 says between phone calls, texts, and their online database from January through November of this year 267,074 contacts have been made.
Before 2020, the record was around 175,000 in one year.
Top needs from the people reaching out include mental health, healthcare, and housing. IMPACT's President and CEO John Hyatt explained the calls come from cities, suburbs, and rural areas.
"There’s a heightened level of anxiety," said John.
"By the time they’re calling 211 it is generally a crisis," said Emily Kenney, Director of Systems Change at IMPACT.
Emily who oversees one of the programs that helps people with housing and homelessness said the work can be overwhelming but the organization's partnerships to help are, in a way, stronger than before.
"We have legal representation, mediation, and neighborhood services as part of that," said Emily.
Despite mounting needs, while making it through the pandemic themselves, Impact 2-1-1 is making changes to meet the challenge whether it is staff or technology.
"We’re trying to do everything we can to build our own infrastructure so that when those waves we’re best prepared to sort of navigating that. Of course, we continue to reach out to our partners and making sure we’re getting resources updated if there are other ways to financially support the organization so we can increase our capacity," said John.