For the past 26 years, United Way of Broome County 211 Director Candace Gregory has dedicated her life to making sure the community has access to the resources they need.
She directs Broome County’s 211 service, an agency that’s been around since 1983.
“You can find a lot on the internet, but the beauty of calling 211 is we’re actual people that you can have a conversation with, kind of poke through what the other needs are in the household,” Gregory said.
Operators of the 211 service help callers find everything from food pantries and housing to tax prep and rental assistance. No matter what the calls relate to, they’re excited make a difference.
“I love being able to help the people of our community and connect them with different resources that typically they might not have known were even available. That’s what we’re here for,” a 211 operator said.
Gregory says a majority of calls to 211 lately have related to housing and homeless calls are up over 80% as finding shelters or even temporary housing throughout our communities has become more difficult.
“We saw it coming well over a a year ago," Gregory said. "We’re sort of a barometer with the calls that come in, so we can see what the emerging needs are in the community. Housing has always been an issue, especially even before COVID hit.”
Operators field calls like these 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and sometimes, they aren’t easy. So what keeps Gregory coming back day after day?
“Can you hear what’s coming out of the call center right now? The energy, the compassion, the empathy, knowing that we’re making a difference in our community. I get up every day excited to come to work," Gregory said.
Currently, 211 centers are providing free tax prep for qualifying residents making below a specific income level.