At the core of every United Way office is an information and referral telephone hotline system that is available to all county residents. Please note, while many of the country's United Way organizations choose be part of a United Way network information service called 2-1-1, United Way of Santa Rosa County (UWSRC) operates an independent First Call for Help hotline. (If you live in Escambia or Okaloosa/Walton for example, you would dial 211 for assistance.)
Aside from assessing community needs and raising funds to help area agencies provide a greater capacity of services, United Ways are information referral sources. Generally speaking, United Ways are not direct service providers.
This one-stop information and referral hotline helps connect callers with local resources for help with disaster relief, housing, food, utilities, financial assistance, employment and more. The Santa Rosa County First Call for Help phone calls are answered by volunteers and staff who work at United Way of Santa Rosa County’s office in Milton, during our open business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To advocate for a person or family in need, be sure to share our number. You may also know of students, neighbors, friends, and coworkers who may want information to help cope with difficult times. If you work at a nonprofit agency that serves Santa Rosa County and would like to be added to our First Call for Help resource list, or have service updates, please contact us.
The most significant reason UWSRC has for creating our own information system is to save donor dollars. As UWSR executive, Director Guy Thompson explains, “After carefully reviewing a cost/benefit analysis, the most cost effective option to our local United Way was not to choose 2-1-1. On average, a phone call to the 2-1-1 system costs the incubating United Way a total of approximately $16 per call, whereas the First Call for Help line only costs your local United Way in Santa Rosa pennies on the dollar.”
The funds we save are then used to help fund services elsewhere in the community.
The First Call for Help line receives more than 1,200 phone calls each year. Calls are answered by a United Way First Call for Help specialist who refers the caller to the appropriate resource, while also collecting vital information from the caller. This confidential information is imperative to compiling our annual community needs assessment report. This report details critical community needs and breaks the needs down by focus area, location, population, and others.
First Call for Help’s number is 850.983.7200.