Update March 31, 2020, 9:15 am:
It's truly amazing what our community can do when we come together! We're happy to report that an overwhelming number of volunteers came forward to answer the call to help staff the Louisiana 211 call center with volunteers. In fact, Tori Thomas from the United Way of NWLA sent the following this morning. Here's a personal thank you to all of the volunteers who stepped up when our state needed you!

On March 12, Louisiana's 211 network began answering calls about COVID-19.  As of March 30, Louisiana 211 has received approximately 30,000 calls for help and as many messages from individuals texting for information.  This surge in activity led to an increased need for volunteers to assist in answering these calls.  United Way of Northwest Louisiana requested volunteers from the community and received an overwhelming response from citizens volunteering to help answer calls to the Louisiana 211 Helpline. As a result of this response, additional volunteers are no longer needed to handle the increase in calls at this time.

"We appreciate the overwhelming interest of the community to volunteer at this time," said Louise Droddy, Director of 211 for United Way of Northwest Louisiana. "United Way of Northwest Louisiana will continue to collect names in case more volunteers are needed in the future."

While priority will be given to those who have already registered to volunteer with 211, individuals interested in volunteering should continue to visit www.unitedwaynwla.org/volunteer-form to learn more about other volunteer opportunities currently available. This will allow those interested in community services to be deployed as needs and other opportunities arise.

In addition to volunteering, there are other ways to support our community at this time. "When we feel the most helpless, we actually have the power to do the most good," says Dr. Bruce Willson, President and CEO of United Way of Northwest Louisiana.  "We encourage people to give to the United for NWLA Fund.  Gifts to this fund support families struggling in Northwest Louisiana after they have exhausted resources they were connected to through 211."

For more tips on additional ways the community can help, United Way also shared 5 Things You Can Do to Fight the COVID-19 Crisis.

Thank you to everyone helping our community during this difficult time through volunteering or contributing to the United for NWLA Fund. We are all in this together, and United Way is here to help!

Original Post from March 30, 2020, 3:54 am:
If you've been wondering what you could do to help in the fight against COVID-19 in Louisiana, this might be just what you're looking for!

Surely you've heard the saying about 'knowing is half the battle?' That my friend is entirely true! One of the biggest tools in our arsenal to combat coronavirus in Louisiana is factual information and access to resources. We've seen a plethora of misinformation on the internet and Louisiana's 211 system is a way to make sure correct and accurate information is disseminated. The best thing about volunteering for 211 is that you can do it from the safety of your own home. Here's more on how you can sign up!

United Way operates an information system called Louisiana 211.  By maintaining an accurate database of public and community-based resources, Louisiana 211 connects individuals to basic services, a great need in times of disaster. A person can also use the online Service Directory to search for resources nearby.

Having a live person to assist people in need can be critical when people are experiencing distress, and given our community needs, it is no surprise that the current capacity for live support from 211 has been overwhelmed.  As of March 20, there were 11,172 calls from Northwest Louisiana alone.

Your help is desperately needed and you don't have to leave the confines of your home to make this important contribution.  All you need is a personal phone, a laptop or desktop computer, and internet access.  Once you sign up, you will be provided with online training and support.

To sign up as a call center volunteer, go to https://unitedwaynwla.org/volunteer-form/  and select Louisiana 211 Call Center Volunteer from the options.