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Call 211 Before You Spend Money For Help. It's FREEEEE


Joshua B. Pedersen, CEO
United Way of Frederick County

  Interview Highlights

  • Joshua serves on the state of Maryland 211 Board of Directors.
  • He has been involved with 211 since it inception about 10 years ago.
  • This hotline can identify a lot of community programs that help people.
  • 211 serves as a road map to navigate the maze of human services.
  • 211 keeps a database of all the programs available to help people a free service from a non-profit that can help them.
  • It is a connection to government and non-profit agencies that you may not know about.
  • 211 can identify assistance for housing needs, food programs, domestic violence, grief counseling, substance abuse counseling, utility assistance, foreclosure, paying rent.
  • This free service will let you know if there is a government program or a religious organization that can provide help.
  • 211 acts as a social utility for everybody!
  • It is also if for people struggling with an illness or helping an aging parent.
  • You can talk with a real person in a 180 different languages.
  • Abut 87% of the population has access to 211.
  • Across the country 211 gets about 16 million calls per year, that is about 3-4% of the population.
  • This 211 receives about 300,000 calls a year in Maryland.
  • They get a lot of calls pertaining to home mortgages.
  • This service and database is also online at
  • In Maryland you can call 24/7 and again, get information in 180 languages.
  • Many people don't call of help because they are embarrassed.
  • All calls are anonymous.
  • Housing and utilities seem to be the biggest issues from callers.
  • All calls are answered by a trained information specialist.
  • You are always welcome to call back if you aren't satisfied with the information you received.
  • 211s are non-profits and funded from a variety of sources and United Way is a major supporter.

Strange Calls To 211

211 is there to find you real free help for problems but they can also answer strange calls like below:
  • Is it legal to bury a horse in my backyard?
  • What time is it in Sydney Australia right now?
  • How long does butter keep in the cupboard?
  • How long does a turkey keep once it's been thawed?
  • Hi, I want to enroll in domestic violence (really meant prevention program).
  • I locked my keys in the car, whom do I call?
  • Who has the best wine selection in town?
  • I need a judge who speaks Spanish to marry us - who do we call?
  • Is "xyz" reservoir frozen over yet we want to go ice fishing?
  • How can I sign up for the misplaced housewife program? (really meant the displaced homemakers program)