The local one-stop call for assistance information in the region is now accepting texts.

211 Susquehanna River Region Information and Referral Contact Center (formerly First Call for Help) will connect people with resources if they text their zip code to 898211.  The service is available in English.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

Residents can still dial 211 24-hours-a-day to get information on everything from food and heating assistance to programs for the elderly.

The United Way of Broome County, which helps coordinate the accredited information service for residents of Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Otsego and Tioga Counties, says the texting operation is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

While 211 can provide immediate help for people dealing with mental health issues, family violence, drug addiction or other crisis, the service is not a substitute for calling 911 in an emergency.

Get our free mobile app

Broome United Way Executive Director LoriAnne Welch says the new text feature is one more way 211 Susquehanna River Region can respond to rapidly growing needs.  The service has been used frequently over the past year by residents needing information and services related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including some people who were locked down in quarantine who needed help in getting food or medication while they were unable to leave their homes.

Officials point out that sometimes residents find it difficult to place a call or have a verbal communication issue, so texting is another way to communicate.

READ MORE: Here are 50 ways you can improve your work from home lifestyle