NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s an effort underway in the Hudson Valley to spread the word about a critical lifeline that few people know exists.

The United Way’s 211 helpline just marked 10 years.

“It amazes me every day when I go out I find people who don’t know about 211,” said Alana Sweeny, President and CEO at United Way of Westchester and Putnam.

Sweeny estimates over the past decade, 211 has assisted more than 400,000 callers.

“Most of the calls we get are for basic needs — food, shelter, housing — those are by far the majority, but they fill the gamut,” Sweeny told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “I’ve gotten calls from a woman in a nursing home who felt she was being neglected. She didn’t know what to do, she reached out, we were able to connect her with the right people at the state health department.”

They fielded 28,000 calls during the recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

The helpline is free, confidential and multilingual.

“We can serve people in 230 languages and it’s not just calling and having someone read from a script, it’s sometone who really will help you to connect to services,” Sweeny said.

The service operates from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and it is trying to raise the funds to expand to a 24/7 operation.


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