Google is a wonderful tool but it is just that – a tool.

Google is a wonderful tool, but it is just that – a tool. 

When you call 211 Northwest Florida (211 NWFL), you connect to a live human being.  A live human being who is compassionate has access to an up-to-date and vetted resource database plus a human being can problem solve, something Google cannot. 


Recently a 211 NWFL Specialist fielded a call from a single mother in a rural county – rural as in less than 20,000 inhabitants and, consequently, limited resources.  The single mother was calling 211 because the pastor of her church suggested 211 may be of assistance as the single mother was facing a situational crisis in paying her rent. 

She had been working full-time, paying all her bills but basically living paycheck to paycheck; like so many in today’s world, she had no savings but was proud to be independent and self-supporting of her children.  Then, unexpectedly, the business she had been working at full-time for the past 7 years went out of business.  She was a competent and qualified technician and found another job but it did not start for TWO WEEKS and the first paycheck was two weeks after that.  No income for 30 days with rent due!  On the advice of her pastor, she called 211 where she connected with a specialist who was there to help.  After taking a moment to learn of the single mother’s situational crisis and asking a few demographic questions the 211 specialist researched agencies that might help with rent only to learn there we no agencies in her rural area that helped with rent.

The specialist factually shared this information with the single mother who confirmed that her own Google research had only revealed services that “may” help if she first sent them $10.  Not one to give up, the 211 specialist gently probed for additional information and possible resources learning that the mother had set aside money to pay her electric bill to keep the lights on.  Thinking “outside the box”, the 211 Specialist asked the single mother that if she hadn’t paid the light bill, perhaps she could find a resource to help with that bill and free up her money to apply for rent.  Researching the 211 data base the specialist found a local resource that might help with a light bill and shared the application information with the single mother encouraging her to reach out for assistance with the light bill possibly freeing up her money to apply for rent and engaging the landlord in keeping them briefed on her efforts to pay rent.  The single mother agreed and agreed to a follow-up call later in the week.  When our 211 specialist followed up she learned that the single mother had qualified for assistance with her light bill and took the money she had previously set aside to make a partial rent payment the landlord agreed to accept knowing that her new job started soon!  It was the human connection made between a person in need and a compassionate 211 specialist that found a solution proving yet again that Google alone isn’t enough – it’s about people helping people!


*Names are excluded, and stock photos are used to protect the privacy of the clients

211 Northwest Florida, is an information and referral service that provides one-stop connections to community resources and services when you need them most. 211 maintains up-to-date information on emergency food and shelter resources; services for families and seniors; connections to healthcare, childcare, and disability services; counseling and mental health services; and so much more.
To get connected, simply dial 2-1-1 from any phone. Your call is free, and confidential, and help is available 24/7. 211 Northwest Florida provides service to Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington counties in Florida, however, help is available nationwide. Find your local 211 here. 
You may also now connect with an I&R Specialist through 211's new text message service. Simply text your zip code to 898211. This service is available Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.