2-1-1 is the number Coloradans call when they need to be connected with vital resources across the state. The confidential and multilingual service can help find organizations that help meet a variety of needs, ranging from childcare to rental assistance. During the pandemic, the calls have not stopped.
In the first three months of the pandemic, call volume increased by 200%. There was a sharp spike when COVID-19 vaccines became available as well. "The needs have definitely shifted over the course of it, but what we haven't seen is a lack of need," said David Prudhomme, a 2-1-1 Navigator at the Pikes Peak Region call center.
Prudhomme explained that at the start of the pandemic, the biggest concerns were things like unemployment or access to food. "As things kind of settled in, and people realized we're in it for the long haul, bigger bills started becoming an issue. Rent, utilities," said Prudhomme.
Now, as many individuals are heading back to the workplace, calls for connections to services like childcare have increased.
The staff at the 2-1-1 Call Center for the Pikes Peak Region has tripled to keep up with the demand. It is the largest it has ever been, with nine navigators. "A lot of folks that are calling in are in really tough situations and are dealing with things that most people never have to deal with. And it can also be really tough to reach out for help," said Prudhomme.
Prudhomme started at 2-1-1 Colorado in April of 2020, as the pandemic was just beginning. He says he has learned so much about the Southern Colorado community through the job. "Even in a place as spread out as Colorado Springs, we can make it feel a little smaller, and a little more tightly knit... When they call in, asking for a certain thing, or not even sure where to start, and you end the call with them being really excited for the opportunities ahead of them... Those ones always feel really good, when you click the phone afterwards," said Prudhomme.
2-1-1 Colorado is funded by donations.
Navigators are there to answer calls Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.