211 Broward — the free helpline which connects people in need with a wide range of services — needs help itself.
The agency is trying to close a $25,000 budget shortfall. Don’t fear — the agency will continue to operate but the agency’s leadership said it would make things a whole lot easier if they can break even this year and not be forced to dip into next year’s fund raising.
“I think every single citizen needs to invest in 211 so that if they, or someone in their family or someone they know ever has a problem, it’s there for them,” Laurie Sallarulo, 211 Broward’s Chief Development Officer, told me today.
211 serves all residents in Broward and has seen its’ call volume double in the past five years. It’s no secret why. As the economy spiraled, more and more people found themselves looking for basic services like food, clothing, shelter and rental assistance. 211 also provides services for seniors, working parents and teens.
“We see people who are calling for the first time,” Sallarulo said. “High numbers of people for the first time falling into poverty — middle class people.”
And while the volume of calls has increased, staffing at 211 Broward has stayed the same.
Sallarulo said they would love to hire more counselors — all of whom have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work. But the funding simply isn’t there.
211 Broward does not receive state or federal funding and relies solely on donations and sponsorships. The agency’s four core supporters are The United Way, Children’s Services Council of Broward County, the Department of Children and Families and Broward County.
211 Broward is in the midst of a Break Even Campaign. Initially, the agency faced a $200,000 shortfall. Through budget cuts and fund raising, 211 Broward cut the deficit to $25,000.
To read more about 211 Broward and find out how you can help,