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2-1-1 information line switches to Health Council

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The 2-1-1 free information line for the region is now being manned by the Chaves County Health Council.

About six calls have come in so far in the week-and-a-half since the line was transferred from the United Way of Chaves County, according to Health Council Coordinator Jennifer Smith, who will staff the cellphone that will receive the 2-1-1 calls.

“We feel this is a needed resource in our community because not everyone knows what is available in our community and we can be the place to get that information,” she said. “It aligns with our mission and vision for the Chaves County Health Council to be a viable alliance to strengthen and engage our community in creating opportunities for positive action that addresses the disparities specific to Chaves County. The lack of a centralized information system has been identified as a huge issue for Chaves County, for the community as a whole and for organizations within the community.”

Smith said the phone will operate from about 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, at this point. Any legitimate queries about Chaves County and its municipalities will be answered. Callers can leave voicemail messages before or after those hours.

Smith said she will aim to answer questions within a few hours if she cannot answer or refer them to a knowledgeable source immediately.

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The United Way ran the 2-1-1 line for about seven years, the group’s executive director, Sherry Mumford, said in a prior interview. The organization’s board voted May 21 to transfer service to the Health Council, with the understanding that the group intends to provide more phone coverage than the United Way could at the current time. Most past callers were seeking assistance in paying utility bills, Mumford said.

Smith and Valerie Lopez, Health Council board president, said that they envision a 2-1-1 line that will provide information about disaster recovery, mental health services, community organizations and events, employment resources, programs and services for the elderly, the disabled, children and youth.

The Health Council has applied for a grant to create a database that eventually would be available in print and online.

Smith added that advertisements and promotions for the service are expected to begin soon.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.