211 flooded with calls from Craig

Craig residents dialed the 211 information and referral service 120 times this year, the third-highest number of calls in the state.

The toll-free service, which was implemented in Craig in September, puts people in touch with government agencies and nonprofits that can help with everything including counseling and legal assistance.

More people in Craig have dialed 211 than in Steamboat Springs, Greeley and Denver combined.

People in Fort Collins, where the 211 call-center is located, and Loveland have made the most 211 calls this year.

211 has been in place in Loveland and Fort Collins longer than it has in Craig.

The number of 211 calls from Craig peaked in April with 31.

211 program manager Linda Ekblad, who was in Northwest Colorado this week to discuss the program, attributes Craig's high volume to a marketing campaign by Craig youths.

El Pomar Youth in Com--munity Service, a statewide organization with a branch at Moffat County High School, hung posters about 211 in April. The group also gave presentations about 211 to more than 30 organizations, including The Memorial Hospital, Craig Lions Club and area schools.

"We're very excited about (the volume of calls)," said Corrie Scott, El Pomar adviser and 211 advisory committee member. "We'll continue to do that for several years."

Scott said the volume of calls shows the students that their efforts paid off.

Cassidy Young, 17, an El Pomar member, said she was glad to hear that people were using the service.

According to Ekblad, the nature of 211 calls from Craig varies.

"We get frantic callers and people calling for a phone number," she said.

Many 211 calls are from people looking for assistance with rent, utility bills and gas vouchers.

"We try to direct them to somebody who can help," she said.

In 2004, 78 people called 211 from Craig.

211, which is run by the Larimer County United Way, recently started operations in Rio Blanco County.

The 211 call center is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The call center is closed on holidays, including the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.

Ekblad said that anyone who needs service when the call center is closed can access the Web site at www.firstcall211.org.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at824-7031 or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com

Commenting has been disabled for this item.