The meeting of human services needs in Lycoming County took another step forward with the recent debut of a 211 telephone number.
Dialing 211 now puts a caller in touch with a wide variety of human services providers, such as physical and mental health resources and employment support.
The idea has been several years in the making, according to Lycoming County United Way Executive Director Scott Lowery.
What's distinctive about the 211 link is that it provides immediate communications to several human services tentacles.
During normal business hours, dialing 211 will put a person in touch with a person from STEP Inc.'s Linkage Lycoming program.
After business hours, calls are sent to the Community Help Center in State College, where the call is channeled back to local authorities.
This takes the meeting of human services needs to a new level. Whether it's the need for food, clothing and shelter or an emergency situation, there is someone to hear at the touch of a phone.
It's a quick-response system that is overdue and we are glad it's here.
It is not free.
It costs $350,000 spread over 16 counties to operate the 211 center. In Lycoming County, $60,000 in donations have been raised to pay for the service.
It is worth the support to meet the needs of our citizens more immediately than ever.