Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. At United Way of Greater Atlanta we are working to create opportunity for our community’s youth.

Meet Hannah and Hanna to understand how zip code can determine a child’s potential.

Like Hanna, today in Greater Atlanta, nearly 500,000 children live in communities lacking the basic opportunities and resources needed for them and their families to thrive.

June 9th, you can help change that.

Access to food, shelter and transportation is fundamental for children to learn and thrive. Families building financial literacy skills, access to job training and affordable healthcare creates economic stability and equitable growth in the most challenged communities.

#UnitedGivingDay is the opportunity for you to help children, families, and communities thrive. Join individuals, local communities, and corporations for 24 hours of giving to help children, families, and communities throughout Greater Atlanta in need.

In one day, YOU can make a difference. In one day, YOU can impact a lives.

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well-Being mission is to ensure every child and family have equitable opportunities and access to resources to reach their full potential regardless of race or zip code. You can support #UnitedGivingDay by donating to United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well-Being Mission Fund, one of four Child Well-Being Investment Priority Areas, or to the 2-1-1, Contact Center, which connects individuals and families with the community-based resources they need to survive and thrive.

Join us now or on June 9 for Giving Day! You can even host your own fundraiser on social and help spread the word. And if you or someone you know needs help, visit here, or text your zip code and need to 898-211 or dial 211.

This story was previously published on SaportaReport.com.

United Way of Greater Atlanta has been closely monitoring developments related to the novel coronavirus. Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on large gatherings, we have decided to postpone all events starting Monday, March 16 until further notice. While we are disappointed that we won’t be gathering for events, we’re dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of all involved. We will continue to monitor developments to determine if further postponements are needed or if a virtual experience is appropriate. Please stay tuned for future communications from United Way of Greater Atlanta regarding all postponed or virtual events.

In times of need, United Way of Greater Atlanta is here for the community. That’s how we started – supporting our community during a massive snow and ice storm that disabled the City of Atlanta in 1905. At this moment, our community is facing a new challenge and United Way is again here to help.

United Way of Greater Atlanta is helping address the negative impacts of the novel coronavirus in our community. We are in close contact with the CDC, reporting out all concerns related to COVID-19 that are communicated to us through our 2-1-1 Contact Center. We standby, through our 2-1-1 Contact Center, to support individuals and families who find themselves in need during this uncertain time.

Simply put, United Way of Greater Atlanta’s 2-1-1 Contact Center connects families with the community-based resources they need to thrive. There are many ways to connect to 2-1-1 including by phone, chat, email, or mobile app.

We encourage you to share with others that 2-1-1 is a valuable resource that is available 24-hours and 7 days-a-week.

211 is United Way’s program that connects people in this area to resources they need. The daytime staff starts its shift at 7 a.m. with about 14 to 16 agents sitting on calls — it depends on the time of the year and day of the week, says Don Zubler, 211 operations director.

“They [agents] receive a four-week training that takes them through the taxonomy code and all the verbiage we use,” Zubler said. “They go through a heavy amount of that to look up referrals, and then they go through call flow quality training, some customer-service based training and how to speak to callers in order to guide them through the conversation and maintain a certain type of flow throughout the call.”

Zubler has a staff of five who work the afternoon second shift, and one person sits on the phone to respond to overnight calls.

The program started 21 years ago, Zubler said — he started as an overnight agent, and worked there for a couple of years before working up to operations director. He has been working with 211 since the beginning.

A service called “First Call to Help” predates the 211 program, Zubler says. First Call to Help provided the same type of services as 211. It was a place for people to come to find direction to other social services they needed.

The program expanded and a formed a committee that decided to establish an easy-to-remember three-digit number that would immediately connect people to someone who could provide them with contacts that could give them services they needed.

Now, all 50 states and Puerto Rico have 211 service. That results in 94.2 percent of the overall population of the United States.

The coverages ranges, Zubler says, but there are now around 250 centers nationwide, including nine in Georgia.

“It varies from different areas,” he said. “It has been a United Way effort to grow 211, and along with the daily needs of the people… we have become a sort of disaster relief — not to be confused with First Responders. We are able to help them express what the needs are, and we are able to connect them to different services sites.”

United Way of Greater Atlanta reported last year that on average 211 received around 792 calls Monday through Friday. There were monthly individual web searches of more than 31,000, and there’s more than 380,000 a year. Atlanta’s 211 office takes calls and gives referrals for the Atlanta area, as well as Macon, Athens, Columbus and, after hours, Augusta, Zubler said. They also take calls for the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Mr. Smith —these names have been changed to keep anonymity— made a call to 211 seeking assistance with the cost of an extended stay in a hotel.

Smith had a few days left before he would be forced to leave, and he had already contacted agencies for help.

Smith received a call from an agency case worker quickly. He expressed his need, an assessment was made and determined she would help. The case worker reached out to the extended stay to request the partnership, and they agreed to work with the case worker and allow him to stay until they received the check. Smith received assistance in the amount of $1,500 taking care of 6 weeks of extended stay.

Ms. Harris, a single mother, lost her home to an electrical fire. As a result of the unexpected fire, she was homeless, sleeping in her vehicle with her 8-year-old daughter and her pet dog. Harris received hotel assistance from Red Cross, but after two weeks in the hotel, she had nowhere to go.

She contacted a shelter, but the shelter was at capacity. She was told to contact 211. This woman was contemplating suicide and having thoughts of sending her daughter to live with a friend in New York. She reluctantly contacted 211.

As the phone rang, she heard the voice of a community support specialist and disconnected the call. She threw her phone on the passenger seat of her car, placed her head on the steering wheel and started to cry.

She looked behind her and her daughter’s eyes filled up with tears. She called 211 again, was connected to a specialist and was told she might qualify for additional assistance. Two weeks later, she received a rental deposit of $1,244. She moved into a home she could afford with enough room for her daughter and pet dog.

“After fire comes rain, after rain comes sunshine. United Way is the sunshine of my life right now,” she said.

The community can access 211 by calling, searching online, emailing contact211@unitedwayatlanta.org, using the 211 mobile app or by chatting with a call center specialist at 211online.unitedwayatlanta.org.

You can also text your zip code and need to 898211.

“We have around 4,000 agencies that provide support,” Zubler said.

Zubler has worked with 211 since its inception. Zubler has a degree from Georgia State University with a degree in social work —he also has a degree from University of Georgia in Agriculture. He loves being a part of a program that can provide help and a first step for people in need.

“It’s rewarding to be able to point people in the right direction,” Zubler said. “There’s also the experience of talking to people and learning what the problems are in the community. That’s helpful to know what people are going through.”