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FSA Service Spotlight: PA 211 Northeast / Help Line

Since 1895, Family Service Association of NEPA has helped local children, individuals, families and communities achieve their full potential. In honor of their 125th anniversary, this nonprofit organization will share the stories behind their services. Join every month to learn more about their diverse programs and how you can support their vision of building resilient families and thriving communities—one person at a time.

Help Is Just a Call Away

The PA 211 Northeast / Help Line is a free, confidential information and referral service that’s available 24/7/365. The Help Line connects people in need with human services and also provides after-hours crisis and telephone answering services.

Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania (FSA) initially answered the call for help in 1972 after Hurricane Agnes. Luzerne County residents didn’t have a resource where they could easily obtain contact information for assistance. The Help Line was born to help local people put their lives back together in the wake of the storm.

About 10 years later, FSA became the PA 211 Northeast provider. Today, they serve 17 counties in Northeastern and Northcentral Pennsylvania.

Callers seek referrals to basic needs like food, utilities, housing, emergency shelter, physical health care, mental health care, crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation and much more. While economic information is not asked of callers, national statistics indicate that over 70% of callers of these services are living at or below the federal poverty level.

Many case workers have countless “success stories” to share from their vital work. PA 211 Northeast has a long-time caller, Jim*, who suffers from anxiety and social isolation. Recently, the case worker learned that Jim’s home had been burglarized. He needed help sorting through all that he needed to do, like calling his credit card companies and banks, as well as coping with the anxiety from the robbery. The case worker was able to connect him with the resources he needed to recover. For many people like Jim, the Help Line is their only support system.

PA 211 has also served a crucial role in helping people throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Tom Foley, Director of PA 211 Northeast / Help Line, states that from March through May 2020, call volumes doubled. PA 211 continues to have days and weeks with very enhanced volume due to COVID and has predicted a 25% increase in usage during this year of economic hardship.

While the Help Line is state-wide service, PA 211 Northeast is not a fully funded program. FSA continually seeks grants and individual donations to support this incredibly valuable service.

Please consider making a gift to FSA. Any donation, no matter how big or small, will go immediately to work helping the most vulnerable in our community. And if you are in need of assistance, you can always reach out to the Help Line. Simply dial 211, text your zip code to 898211 or visit the Help Line website.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

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