(January 27, 2015) – In 2012, the United Way of Southern Kentucky under the direction of the Board of Directors began the process to shift to a Community Impact business model. Designed to create long-term community change, this new model is currently guiding United Way and its partners on how to build a better community that provides opportunities for all.

In order to properly implement the new model, United Way listened to hundreds of people from across the ten county BRADD region about their aspirations for a better community through a series of Community Conversations, thousands of submitted surveys, and then layered in secondary data identifying consistent themes in Education, Income, Health and Safety Net issues that the community felt were most important to be addressed.

As a result of the in-depth research that was conducted, one of the key issues that was identified was ‘knowing where and how to get help.’ On the heels of this finding, United Way of Southern Kentucky announced in 2015 its plans to launch 2-1-1 services for the 10 county BRADD Region in 2016.

Similar to 911, 2-1-1 is an easy to remember three-digit telephone number assigned by the Federal Communications Commission for the purpose of providing quick and easy access to information about health and human services. Professional Information and Referral Specialists work with callers to assess their needs, determine their options and provide appropriate programs/ services, give support, intervene in crisis situations and advocate for the caller as needed. Instead of multiple calls leading to dead ends, with one call to 2-1-1, people can reach a trained specialist who assesses a caller’s full scope of needs and matches them to the right services. 2-1-1 also assists during times of disaster, providing critical information about evacuation routes, food, and shelter.

Local businesses will benefit from 2-1-1 in that managers and human resource professionals will have a place to call for help with employees experiencing personal issues also resulting in decreased absenteeism as it serves as a central resource for child care and elderly care assistance. In addition, 2-1-1 offers employees being laid off a source of local support and information. Also, 2-1-1 will help minimize the effects of homelessness and crime in our neighborhoods, and help reduce expensive non-emergency calls to 911. Furthermore, with

2-1-1 as the first single point of contact, it can be an ‘early warning’ system for emerging health and human service needs; 2-1-1 can be the social barometer providing accurate, unbiased, real-time information about community needs and service gaps.

2-1-1 is currently available to 93.4% of residents in the United States and thanks to United Way of Southern Kentucky as a result of community input and feedback, it will be made available to all residents in the 10 county BRADD Region in late July/ early August of 2016. 

The 2-1-1 Contact Center will be located at the United Way of Southern Kentucky office (1110 College Street) and will house two staff members: a Contact Center Director and an intake call specialist. The offices will be open to receive calls locally from 8am – 5pm.

While research and development of the center is currently underway, United Way of Southern Kentucky has announced that Norman Wheeler will be serving as the 2-1-1 Contact Center Director to lead these efforts. Prior to accepting the position as 2-1-1 Contact Center Director, Wheeler enjoyed a 30 year career in the field of legal aid upon graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1985. Most recently employed locally as the Intake Director with Kentucky Legal Aid, Wheeler was involved from ground level in developing the operating systems and procedures for the Centralized Intake Department, a telephone call center to provide advice and referral legal services, as well as supervising the attorneys, paralegals, and support staff for the Bowling Green call center. Wheeler has extensive experience with many of the aspects of integrating telephone systems with database software, call center staff management, call center federal and grant regulations, and vast knowledge of regional resources.

“Norm brings an extensive background in contact center management to United Way of Southern Kentucky’s 2-1-1 Contact Center,” says Debbie Hills, Interim CEO for United Way of Southern Kentucky. “The direction he provided in the development, implementation and day to day management of Kentucky Legal Aid’s intake center made him the ideal candidate for this position. Our 2-1-1 Contact Center is fortunate to have a Director with his background and we are thrilled to have him joining our team.”

Leading the execution of the new Community Impact business model including the implementation of the 2-1-1 Contact Center is Debbie Hills who is currently serving as Interim CEO for United Way of Southern Kentucky.

Before joining United Way of Southern Kentucky more than 16 years ago, Hills spent 17 years with Fruit of the Loom, 10+ in senior management including Vice President of Marketing for the men’s underwear division and the children’s products division which she led in the development thereof. Originally hired by United Way as the Director of Community Impact, Hills was quickly promoted to Executive Vice President and now serves as the Chief Operating Officer. Most recently in her time with United Way, Hills has led the development of the new Community Impact platform including research development and execution, and the allocations process redesign. As COO, Hills oversees all functional areas including finance and administration, resource development, marketing, and community impact.

“Debbie has many years of executive management experience and was the obvious choice to serve as interim CEO for our organization.  She has served in that role in prior years when the organization had a vacant CEO position and did a wonderful job leading our organization through those transitions,” says Ann Puckett, current United Way of Southern Kentucky Board Chair. “We are excited about the many new initiatives United Way of Southern Kentucky has underway and will continue to rely on Debbie’s outstanding leadership and our excellent staff to help us move those initiatives forward during 2016.”

For more information on how you can make the choice to LIVE UNITED through giving, advocating and volunteering, log on to the United Way of Southern Kentucky website at www.liveunitedtoday.com.  

United Way of Southern Kentucky (UWSK) is a local, independent, non-profit organization that works to identify and address the issues that matter most, change conditions and improve lives in our community. United Way is focused on the building blocks for good quality of life – Education, Income, Health and Safety Net. Incorporated as a charitable non-profit entity in 1956, UWSK has long served a major role in the community by bringing people together to create opportunities that make a measurable difference in the quality of life for people where they live and work. The mission of United Way of Southern Kentucky is to be the leader in bringing together the resources to build a stronger, more caring community.



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