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Effort to help residents in need is launched

Feb 11, 2015

Rochester, N.Y. — A community coalition made up of the 2-1-1 information program referral service, the Ad Council of Rochester, the United Way of Greater Rochester, and a number of other partners, officially launched today — on what is National 211 Day — the Early Help Seeking community impact campaign. The goal of the campaign is to encourage people with basic needs or mental-health concerns to call 2-1-1 to get connected to help before it becomes a crisis. The advertising materials developed for the campaign will start running this month in the Ad Council’s donated media bank.

“Rochester is facing one of the worst rates of poverty in America,” said Todd Butler, president and CEO of the Ad Council of Rochester. “But it also has a nonprofit community that has responded to those needs with a wide range of programs and services. The challenge is that it can be very difficult to know where to turn, or how to get connected to help. This community effort is designed to help make those connections, before a person’s situation gets out of hand.”

Without 2-1-1 assistance, callers would make an average of eight phone calls to different numbers before finding needed services, according to Shye Louis, manager of the 2-1-1 program, a mission service of Goodwill of the Finger Lakes. The 2-1-1 contact center answered more than 120,000 calls and online communications in 2014. The number continues to grow as more people in the community seek easy, reliable, and confidential access to free information and services, including where to go for food and shelter; what to do if utilities are turned off; where to get free or low-cost health care services; and access to mental-health counseling.

“When you dial 2-1-1 you’ll connect to a caring, professional telecounselor who will listen and work with you to devise a plan to help,” Louis said. “By seeking 2-1-1’s help early, many crisis situations can be eased or avoided altogether.”

The 2-1-1 program serves a 13-county region, including Monroe County, and offers hearing-impaired capabilities and Spanish-speaking members on staff, as well as translators for more than 140 languages. By dialing 2-1-1, callers get 24-hour confidential guidance plus access to an extensive database of 6,000 contacts related to community resources.

Getting the word out about the campaign

Ads touting the new campaign, which are being created in both Spanish and English by pro-bono advertising agency partner Brandtatorship, will appear in print, online, and on radio, TV, and billboards, in addition to online video. The ads encourage people to take action by dialing 2-1-1 to get connected to help or to visit the campaign’s landing page at In addition to the ads, campaign messaging will appear in printed posters, stickers, and agency toolkits.

An example print ad will feature this message:
“Before the problem gets too big. We’re here.

Bills piling up. Putting food on the table. Having to work three jobs just to get by. Finding the strength to get out of bed in the morning.

It’s easy to feel as though some problems are simply getting too big to overcome on your own. But there is help. By dialing 2-1-1 before those struggles become a crisis, you can get connected to the help you need.”

The Early Help Seeking for Basic Needs & Mental Health Issues Summit

The Early Help Seeking for Basic Needs & Mental Health Issues Summit has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 11. The goal of the summit is to raise awareness among community leaders and agencies and service providers regarding early help seeking for basic needs and mental health issues, ultimately increasing participation and referrals to 2-1-1.

Community partners are invited to the summit to learn more about early help seeking to gain a better understanding of what they would need to work toward this goal; discuss the role agencies can play in helping to create the desired behavior change; and determine ways to collaborate on making service delivery more efficient and effective.

The summit will take place from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at ABVI Goodwill at 500 South Clinton Ave., Rochester. The United Way’s Peter Carpino will deliver the opening remarks and Kerry L. Knox of the University of Rochester Medical Center will be the keynote speaker. Table discussions with experts will include the topics of behavioral health, housing, food, employment, care management, and family needs, including education, childcare, elder care, and domestic violence. To learn more about attending the summit, contact the Ad Council of Rochester at 585-442-0200 or

Attention Media

High-res photographs and video related to the new early help seeking campaign are online at

Media Contact:
Dresden Engle
Dresden Public Relations
(585) 319-1812