Category: Navigation Center

Lyft + United Way: A Nationwide and Local Collaboration to Meet Unmet Transportation Needs

2-1-1 gets calls for a variety of needs, like a woman with breast cancer going through chemo. Fighting cancer is hard work, but imagine trying to fight cancer without having safe and consistent transportation to your vital medical appointments. Not only are you physically and emotionally drained from fighting for your life, but you also have the added stress of finding a way to access the treatment you desperately need. In 2017, Untied Way for Greater Austin took more than 5,000 transportation-related calls, 423 were from veterans and 1,629 were requesting help with medical transportation. As the suburbanization of poverty increases, with low-income families moving further away from the city, the amount of people with unmet transportation needs increases. United Way for Greater Austin is pleased to launch a new partnership with Lyft and United Way Worldwide to provide free rides to those with unmet transportation needs. On June 4, 2018 the six-month pilot program began in twelve markets around the nation. The goal of the partnership is to eliminate barriers around transportation by scheduling free rides to clients in the Austin Metro Area. United Way for Greater Austin defines the Metro Area as Austin, Round Rock, Del Valle, Cedar Park, Pflugerville and Buda. Lyft and United Way are joining forces to provide free rides to those in need through the 2-1-1 system. Lyft has committed $1.5 million to the Lyft Relief Rides program in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco. […]

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A Different Kind Of First Responder: 2-1-1 Navigation Center Specialists

It has been two months since Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Coast, but recovery efforts are far from over. Since the storm touched down on August 25, 2017, United Way for Greater Austin’s (UWATX) 2-1-1 Navigation Center has fielded more than 300,000 calls. In just two months, 2-1-1 took 98 percent of its 2016 call volume and the calls are still coming in. From evacuation information to FEMA assistance and volunteer aid, approximately 10 to 20 percent of 2-1-1 calls remain related to Hurricane Harvey disaster response.   The 2-1-1 Navigation Center is a principal part of a statewide support network that participates actively with emergency and disaster support. During Hurricane Harvey, 2-1-1 remained open and responsive 24/7 for nearly three weeks to help the network handle an overwhelming number of calls for rescue, support and recovery resources. In addition to dramatically extending overtime hours, the Navigation Center welcomed support from more than 60 volunteers UWATX staff, Board members and other community volunteers.   Harvey taught us that anyone can end up needing help in times of disaster   Picture this: you and your family are in a strong and stable place financially, you live in a nice two story house and you’ve never had to worry about where to get your next meal. Then, Hurricane Harvey hits. The entire first floor of the home you’ve worked so hard for is destroyed. The carpet is rotting and the sheetrock, drywall and insulation are mold-ridden. The damages to your home could be tens […]

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Community Needs and Trends Report 2015

Since 1996, our Navigation Center has served as the access point for our community for health and human resources. The 2-1-1 Navigation Center has published its annual report of trends in community needs for social services for 2015. This past year, the Navigation Center received a total of 261,504 calls from residents in need of help. The UWATX Navigation Center partners with 2-1-1 Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to help individuals navigate through 30,000 nonprofit and government resources in the ten counties we serve. The counties served through our Navigation Center include Travis, Llano, Burnet, Williamson, Blanco, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop, Lee and Fayette County. Here are some of the community needs trends we saw in 2015:   Increase in Housing-Related Calls Our data shows housing-related needs were the top subject 2-1-1 callers asked about in 2015. Previously, food-related needs were consistently the top need. However, they are related; many times when someone is paying a high percentage of income on their housing, they are likely to have a hard time paying for other basic needs as well, like food, clothing, healthcare, prescriptions and more. This year, the Navigation Center made 100,128 housing-related referrals, which made up 31% of total calls. Top needs for 2-1-1 callers Create pie charts   More Calls From Outlying Areas 2-1-1 calls reflect demographic shifts in our community. There has been an increase in calls from people living in Williamson, Caldwell and Hays Counties, which have experienced booming growth in recent years as people who can no longer afford […]

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Focus on Your Heart This February

Roses are red, violets are blue, take care of your heart, and it will take care of you! There’s more than one reason to share the love this February–this month is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both women and men in America; in fact, one out of every four deaths in the U.S. every year is due to heart disease. In partnership with IT’S TIME TEXAS, Greater Austin residents can call our Navigation Center at 2-1-1 and speak to a Living Healthier coach who can give you tips and help you set goals to get your health and fitness on track. One of our Living Healthier coaches, Suzanne, provided us with a few tips for easy ways to start taking care of your heart. These small steps can go a long way to creating lifetime of heart health:   Make physical activity part of your everyday routine One easy change: skip the elevator, take the stairs. Climbing stairs is a natural and easy way to fit physical activity into your work week. Burn an extra 100-200 calories by incorporating this simple change into your day. Need a creative boost? Try hosting “walking meetings.” A study from Stanford University found that participants increased their creativity levels by an average of 60% when walking compared to sitting. Next time your brain is dry for ideas, get walking for that creative flow. Instead of watching TV after dinner, go on a family walk around the neighborhood to catch up and share […]

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2-1-1 App Released By UWATX, Cerebri & IBM

United Way for Greater Austin is excited to announce the launch of the 2-1-1 Austin mobile app to help community members navigate the complex system of health and human services in Central Texas. The app will allow users to get to the assistance they need quickly, anonymously and from the convenience of their mobile device. In 2015, UWATX’s 2-1-1 call center, which has the most up to date, comprehensive directory for social services information, handled more than 300,000 calls, each representing a person in need of assistance. From mothers who need food for their children, to working families who cannot afford to pay their utility bills, or a dialysis patient trying to coordinate transportation to medical appointments, 2-1-1 can direct users to more than 30,000 social service resources. The app also makes it easy to call 2-1-1 directly when a human touch is required. “The 2-1-1 Austin app will streamline access to social services information, ensuring crucial information is available when and where it is needed,” said Jon Armstrong, UWATX Board Member. “We are grateful for the valuable support from Cerebri and IBM to provide the tools and expertise to help United Way for Greater Austin’s 2-1-1 call center reach more people in need.” Users can simply download the app from the app store and enter their zip code to connect to the most relevant resources based on their needs and location. Users can either find these resources through a robust set of resource-matching tools to obtain a list of […]

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2-1-1 Specialists Make Austin Greater

At UWATX, we are grateful for our employees who are dedicated to improving the lives of people in Greater Austin. United Way’s 2-1-1 Navigation Center is one of the busiest departments that does this every day; just last year, the 2-1-1 Navigation Center answered more than 300,000 calls from residents in need! This compassionate team of specialists connects callers to more than 30,000 nonprofit and government resources within the ten counties we serve. Four phenomenal women: Cynthia Houlihan, Laura Juarez, Melissa Korpi and Jessica Venson (all photographed above), have worked in the UWATX 2-1-1 Navigation Center for more than five years! We chatted with these specialists on their specific roles, the transformations they have seen in the call center over the past five years and what they enjoy most about their jobs: Q: What is your role? Cynthia: 2-1-1 Community Information Coordinator Laura: Bilingual Navigation Specialist Melissa: Lead Healthcare Navigation Specialist Jessica: Director of Client Services Q: How have you seen the Navigation Center change over time since you’ve been here? Cynthia: At the time I started working for 2-1-1 United Way, we were in the first phase of expanding the 2-1-1 call center through the addition of MAP screening services for Central Health. Since that time, we have increased the scope of services the Navigation Center provides to the community through expansion of the Central Health platform and the addition of Bluebonnet Trails Community Services and El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission. The Navigation Center has increased our community involvement by partnering with community programs and initiatives such as […]

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Divine Canines Aid 2-1-1 Call Specialists

Austin – a city where you can find dog-friendly restaurants, hotels and even a dog bar! Another special thing about Austin is that there are a variety of non-profit organizations that focus on animal care and services. Divine Canines is a non-profit organization that encourages smiles and promotes physical and emotional wellness by providing therapy dog services to various populations in Central Texas. This summer, Divine Canines volunteers and their therapy dogs began visiting the UWATX Navigation Center on a monthly basis.The call specialists who work in the 2-1-1 Navigation Center connect Central Texans in need to vital resources, such as rent assistance, food assistance and affordable childcare, and even suicide prevention. Their jobs can often be demanding, emotionally taxing and stressful. The monthly visits provided by Divine Canines has made a profound impact on our call center employees. Sometimes all it takes is a furry friend to brighten up your day! We spoke with Karen Laurenzi, a Divine Canines volunteer who frequently visits the UWATX Navigation Center with her dog, Ranger, and her involvement with the organization: Can you tell us about yourself and how you began volunteering with Divine Canines? When Ranger was nine months old, I started taking him to obedience school. This led to him earning his Canine Good Citizenship certification when he was a little over one year old. During this time, one of the trainers mentioned that Ranger would make a good therapy dog. I wanted a volunteer opportunity and began researching my options. A few weeks later, my […]

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Free December Holiday Meals in Austin

Each year, our Navigation Center sees a spike of calls during the holiday season – people looking to help by donating food, toys, gifts or their time and also calls from people looking for a warm meal for the holidays. We’ve compiled this calendar of resources that are offering FREE warm meals and holiday events to the public:   Click on the image above to see a larger version.   Know someone looking for assistance? Tell them to give us a call at 2-1-1 to get connected to resources in our community.

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Free November Holiday Meals in Austin

Each year, our Navigation Center sees a spike of calls during the holiday season – people looking to help by donating food, toys, gifts or their time and also calls from people looking for a warm meal for the holidays. We’ve compiled this calendar of resources that are FREE and open to the public on a walk-in basis: Click on the image above to see a larger version. Know someone looking for assistance? Tell them to give us a call at 2-1-1 to get connected to resources in our community.

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How to Save Money During the Holidays

The holiday season brings many costly events — from having to heat your home to preparing a Thanksgiving meal, money can get tight fast. When you do not have sufficient funds to spend on your loved ones during this time of the year, it is easy to get stressed out. Fortunately, there are ways to save during one of the most expensive times of the year. Here are a few tips we have compiled that will help you cut back on expenditures this holiday season: Free Thanksgiving Meal to Cook At Home Looking for a warm Thanksgiving meal or know someone that is? One great resource is offered by El Buen Samaritano, a partner who contracts services with the UWATX Navigation Center. This event serves around 1,000 families each year by providing a turkey and ingredients to prepare a delicious Thanksgiving dinner at home. Families who meet eligibility criteria must register at El Buen Samaritano. Click here for information on registration times and dates. The 26th Annual H-E-B Feast of Sharing will also be providing thanksgiving dinners to over 14,000 Central Texans on Tuesday, November 24th at the Palmer Events Center. We will soon be posting a detailed calendar on free holiday meals in the community — be sure to keep an eye out! Reduce Heat Loss From Your Fireplace Fireplaces are handy resources to utilize when the nights get extremely cold (or at least what feels extreme to us Texans!). In order to keep warm air from going up the chimney, make […]

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