The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

November 18, 2013

2-1-1 is ready to help

OURAY, Colo. — On a cold November morning, more than 200 people showed up at the Spire Institute ready to tackle the difficult topic of Generational Poverty.

It was a welcomed surprise to walk into the large banquet hall and see table filled with other professionals, students and concerned citizens who all wanted to learn how to change our community.

The day began with some statistics that reminded the participants of how important it is to start working to change our perception of poverty and specifically, generational poverty.

It was surprising to learn that there are cases of 11 generations of a family who have continually lived below the poverty level in the State of Ohio.

Changing the way we look at poverty and learning meaningful methods to help people move above the poverty level were key aspects of the workshop.

The participants worked together in small groups to discuss all the economic class levels and the barriers to movement from poverty to middle class and even being able to move into a wealthy position.

Since there were representatives from a wide range of social service agencies, churches, non-profits, and even State agencies, it was also a time for collaborations, information, and networking among the participants.

It was an added benefit to be able to share problems and get new ideas from the small groups and from the entire assembly.

While there were many ideas proposed and practical solutions mentioned, it is still important to note that one of the best resources in our county for information on assistance for anyone in need is 2-1-1.

It is surprising how many people are unaware of this key information center that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

While the 2-1-1 operators cannot solve the problems of poverty, they are compassionate and ready to direct each caller to the services or agencies that can provide assistance.

During the onset of cold weather and the first snowfall, the 2-1-1 lines are busy with callers who need help with getting fuel oil or other heating plans established. 2-1-1- can explain the HEAP or PIP programs and the operators explain what documents are required so that the client can be prepared when they apply.

Maybe the caller is having trouble making ends meet and needs a little assistance to provide food for the family. 2-1-1 can direct them to a local food pantry, soup kitchen or community holiday meal site.

Ashtabula County has many people who are not on food stamps but simply don’t make enough to keep their cupboards stocked.

A small car repair, school fee, or medical emergency can wreck a carefully planned budget.

If you or someone that you know is struggling and need assistance but you don’t know where to get help, call 2-1-1.

It is toll free and available 24/7 to provide help and direction to services for everyone in our county.

Ashtabula County professionals, students, and concerned community members who attended the workshop last week gained new insights into the problems associated with our impoverished population.

New strategies and programs will hopefully be employed to change the lives of families who are struggling.

Until then, call 2-1-1 for assistance to find the right agency or program that will help today.

Remember, education and prevention are keys to helping our community.

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