“We really and truly, from the bottom of our heart, want to do the right thing for our neighbors in need,” says Steve Rupp, the manager of member support for Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
The Society has relied on United Way 2-1-1 to connect those in need with help available in their area for nearly five years. According to Rupp, it’s been a game-changer for how they help. Last year alone, Society of St. Vincent de Paul provided approximately $7.4 million in aid through 142 conferences and more than 3,000 volunteers. Conferences are parish-based chapters that serve specific geographic areas throughout St. Louis.
“The 2-1-1 program has enabled us to zero in with the street address and the zip code so that they can be referred to the right conference every time,” explained Rupp. Prior to utilizing 2-1-1, people in need would oftentimes make multiple phone calls and have difficulty locating providers in their specific area.
The Society acknowledged their process needed for change in order to better serve the community. The phone number – 2-1-1 – was easier to remember, already a prominent resource in the community and people in need would greatly benefit from a streamlined process.
Prior to leveraging 2-1-1, people calling the Society felt frustrated by the process of asking for help. “We shared their pain,” said Rupp. “We want people to be able to get help as quickly as they can and with as few phone calls as they can. 2-1-1 has given them the ability to do that, and it warms our hearts to know people are going to be taken care of, they’re not going to get the runaround and they’re going to have their needs met.”
The Society recognizes that utilizing 2-1-1 helps it better serve the community through a simplified process. People in need don’t have to feel like they’re getting the runaround; help is one call away. With the decreased call volume, conference staff have more time to help people in need rather than having to redirect calls and look up service areas.
“Oftentimes we would have to refer them to other agencies, and we didn’t have some of the information necessary that 2-1-1 has at their fingertips,” says Rupp of the conference call centers prior to using 2-1-1. “We’d have to give them a call back, and that’s an extra call or two that had to happen that 2-1-1 accomplishes pretty much all in one stop. People in need can call 2-1-1 and get those referrals immediately.”
Rupp said the added capacity has helped them tremendously. Relying on 2-1-1 to field calls has saved the Society valuable time and resources.
“Our conferences recognize that because of 2-1-1, people are making fewer phone calls; they are going directly to 2-1-1. What was happening before is they were calling five or six or seven churches trying to get help,” explained Rupp. While that still happens to some degree, using 2-1-1 has made helping people more straightforward.
About Society of St. Vincent de Paul
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Archdiocese of St. Louis (SVDP), is a grassroots, volunteer-based, direct-aid organization that brings together men and women to grow in their spirituality through service for others. They have been serving the Greater St. Louis area since 1845. SVDP is part of a national organization and linked by the common mission of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.