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October 4, 2016 | By Linda Wood

My doorbell rang around supper time last night and to my surprise it was my neighbor, a single mother of three children under eight years old. She was crying. She lost her job and had no other source of income and no food for her children. I invited her in for a meal and gave her food for her kids for the next day. I knew that was not enough.

Who should I call?

I remembered that simple number ‘United Way 2-1-1’ that I heard about at the office and gave them a call.  2-1-1 is a confidential hot line operated by Heart of Florida United Way.  Using funds collected in the United Way annual campaign, 2-1-1 is an information and assistance helpline.

I called 2-1-1 and told them my neighbor’s story. They reached out to her with a food resource for herself and her children; and offered child care assistance and job hunting resources. They have been a real lifeline to my neighbor in her time of need. My neighbor/friend is smiling now and she can see that there are blue skies ahead for her.

If you can’t afford to donate to the United Way campaign, please consider helping out Heart of Florida United Way by volunteering with the agencies it supports by giving an hour of your time.

It feels good to make a difference – we each have so many talents – use an hour of your time to help someone like my neighbor. I am glad that I could help – it feels good to help others.

United Way’s 2-1-1 volunteer-managed call center is available 24/7.  In September 2016 they answered 11,167 calls. (view more of the latest stats HERE).  2-1-1 was an integral partner in emergency response to the Pulse tragedy and assisted individuals in preparation of Hurricane Matthew.  The call center provides resources and connection to assistance for anyone in need in our community and they are a crucial resource in times of emergency.

You can join together with our campus community to ensure these resources are available for neighbors in need – visit http://LiveUnited.ucf.edu/Give today.