Knox County's information and referral service, Just Ask 211, is a solid
standard for other communities nationwide, according to the group that
accredits such agencies.
"The Knox County effort is a national model of how to start an Information
and Referral service," said Peter Aberg, executive director of the Alliance
of Information and Referral Systems. " The startup team did extensive
research to find out the best ways to set up and operate a top-quality
Throughout the county, Just Ask 211 is the main source for information on
social service resources and non-emergency assistance. The only other areas
that have the three-digit I&R number are Alabama, Connecticut, North
Carolina and Atlanta.
"If you can't find the service you need, you can't get help - that's why
we're so pleased to help launch this important community resource," said
Tony Spezia, chief operating officer of Covenant Health. "We're confident
that calling 211 for information and referral will soon be as automatic as
calling 411 for directory assistance."
Initial funding for Just Ask 211 has been provided by Covenant Health and
United Way of Greater Knoxville. Support for the service includes health
care, law enforcement, social service agencies, and emergency services in
Knox County. Reducing the number of mistaken calls received by agencies,
Just Ask 211's purpose is to help people find the services they need.
Currently, Just Ask 211 operates 12 hours a day, seven days a week. For the
future, the service plans to expand to operations of 24 hours a day.
"Our research in the Knoxville area found that we have a wealth of
services, but people often don't know how to reach them," said Jan
Collinson, executive director of Just Ask 211. Collinson is the former
executive director of Contact of Blount County and assisted the
establishment of an I&R service for the United Way of Blount County. "A lot
of people give up before they can find the help they need. I'm excited to
be coming in on the ground floor of something like this, which fills such
an important need."
With a database of more than 500 programs and services, Just Ask 211, also
helps community volunteers and donors connect with groups that need their
"Our goal is to have as much current information about as many services as
possible," Collinson said. "We are continually updating our information and
adding new services to the database so that we can give callers the best
The board of Just Ask 211 was established in the spring of 1999 and
includes members from each of the area's hospitals as well as the Knoxville
Police Department, Knox County's Sheriff's Department, E-911, the city and
county governments, Bell South, Knoxville Utilities Board, the Knoxville
Fire Department, First Tennessee Bank-Knoxville, several private businesses
and local churches.
Having problems? Just Ask 211 for help
Published: Tue Jul 25, 2000 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 02:16 p.m.