On January 2, PA 2-1-1 Southwest began taking calls from its new home – a shared space with Dollar Energy Fund in the South Side.
PA 2-1-1 will join Dollar Energy Fund’s existing space allowing for both partners to better serve callers in need. In 2017, more than 15,000 people reached out to PA 2-1-1 for utility assistance. With DEF in the same space, our resource navigators will now be able to ensure our neighbors can access help from this agency even faster. Similarly, if someone calls DEF with a need beyond utility assistance, they can streamline the process by warm transferring them directly to PA 2-1-1 for help finding the resource they need. This partnership cuts out a step in the process for individuals in need of basic needs assistance and will allow our resource navigators to help even more people in need.
The shared space will also allow PA 2-1-1 to access improved technology by using DEF’s pre-existing high quality phone system, allowing us to handle more calls. Among the new capabilities is a virtual waiting line, where callers will be able to have a resource navigator call them back as opposed to sitting on hold during high-traffic hours. The technology will ultimately allow for calls to be better routed to PA 2-1-1 resource navigators to get callers the help they need faster and more conveniently.
The move also allowed for all PA 2-1-1 resource navigators to be United Way employees. “The ability to hire all of our resource navigators in-house reinforces our commitment to them as employees and allows us to be more hands-on in the training process. When a resource navigator is hired, they become certified through the Alliance of Information & Referral Systems and receive ongoing training throughout their employment with us to ensure they are best equipped to help our callers,” Michele Sandoe, PA 2-1-1 assistant director, said. “In this new space, we are now positioned to grow and develop to respond to any future need.”
Ten resource navigators and one human services manager will work at the location, with intensions for continued growth. The human services manager, a brand new position, will be available for callers who have more extreme needs and will advocate on their behalf to coordinate the services that they need.