By Bill Brock
Collier 211 Volunteer
Feb. 11 is a day to celebrate in Collier County as it marks the second anniversary of
the establishment of Collier 211.
Collier 211 you might ask? It is a United Way-administered
non-emergency information and referral call center and website
(www.collier211.org) for people who are in need of various health and human services. This is not to be confused with “911,” which should always be used for medical or other emergencies.
Thanks to the efforts of the Community Foundation of Collier County along with the financial support of community-minded organizations and individuals including the United Way, Collier 211 was implemented in February 2012. Collier County was the last county in Florida to
implement a 211 program.
This past fall, the management of this service was transitioned to the
United Way of Collier County which, with the financial support of the Community Foundation,
the business community and others, is committed to enhancing the program and extending its
reach to every corner of Collier County.
I am very proud of how the program effectively connects people,
many in very challenging situations, with area providers who can help with such things as;
Basic human needs: food banks, clothing, shelters, rental or utility assistance.
Physical and mental health resources: health care providers, maternal health, crisis intervention, support groups, counseling.
* Employment Support: financial assistance, job training, transportation, education
Support for elderly and people with disabilities: adult day care, congregate meals, Meals on
Wheels, respite care, homemaker services, independent living programs.
Support for children, youth and families: childcare, after school care, Head Start, summer camps,
It is such a wonderful resource for our community; it is available free of charge to everyone and it is
Many people perceive that the services are just for lower-income individuals, but that is simply not true.
Consider the daughter living up North who needs help for her elderly mother who lives in Naples and is
recovering from an illness or accident. Or, consider the person living with an abusive spouse or who is
concerned about a family member’s or friend’s drug dependency. Or, the guidance counselor or teacher who
hears that one of their students is homeless and sleeping in a car.
Collier 211 has trained counselors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For those who don’t speak
English, the call center employs counselors who speak a variety of languages including Spanish and Creole.
Depending on the need, counselors can simply provide information or can make contact with a provider while
the caller is still on the line. Individuals who prefer to do their own research and have access to the internet
can connect to the user-friendly website which is filled with helpful information such as provider listings,
sorted by the specific services offered.
From my experience, every call has a much bigger story behind it. Many times, it is someone who has lost
their job or their home and is just trying to survive. Other times, the call is regarding family issues, such as
suspected drug abuse of a child or dementia of a parent. Beyond the immediate situation, more often than not
there are other issues and contributing factors. These typically become apparent through the conversations that
callers have with trained counselors. Once root causes are identified, the most appropriate solutions can be
offered. Collier 211 can’t solve all problems, but for many, a simple phone call to a counselor can be a positive
life-altering experience for individuals, their families, and, indirectly, the community. If we can get people the
help they need early on, everybody wins.
At some point in our lives, we have all felt some level of despair. For many of us, we have been fortunate to
call on a parent, a spouse, or a friend to help us sort through our difficulty during our “time of need.” For
others, their challenges can be very complex. With no one to talk to, they can feel overwhelmed, to the point of
despair. United Way’s Collier 211 can help fill that void, giving people hope and an avenue to gain access to
the services they need.
For more information about Collier 211 or how you can help sustain this important program in our
community, please contact Robyn Quataert at the United Way (239) 261-7112 or
Brock is a retired investment consultant whose clients included Georgetown University, Archdiocese of New York and the City of Baltimore.
He is a 2010 graduate of the Greater Naples Leadership program.