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Dial-up help – N.C. service on tap

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By Todd Cohen

Four regions of North Carolina will begin offering health and human service information and volunteerism opportunities, thanks to a new 211 phone service that takes effect May 1.

The service, approved by the N.C. Utilities Commission, initially will be offered through the Triangle United Way in Research Triangle Park, United Way of Central Carolinas in Charlotte and United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

Service will begin later in the year in a joint project involving the United Way of Greater Greensboro, United Way of Greater High Point and United Way of Forsyth County in Winston-Salem.

Based on results of the four pilot projects, the effort will be expanded throughout the state in 2002.

People calling 211 in any of the areas covered will reach the information and referral service of their local United Way.

In the Triangle, for example, callers dialing 211 will reach the United Way’s infolinc service, which also offers information on the organization’s Web site.

infolinc receives about 750 calls a month, and its Web site gets about 600 hits a month, says Elizabeth Mitchell, vice president of direct services for the Triangle United Way.

North Carolina was the third region in the U.S. — after Connecticut and Atlanta – to receive approval for 211 service from state regulators.

The national 211 initiative has been approved by the Federal Communications Commission and spearheaded by the United Way of America and the National Alliance of Information and Referral Systems.

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