2-1-1 a link to service agencies for SW Colo.

Keywords: Social services,

Unsure how to pay your bills this month? Need a warm place to spend the night? Stuck on the side of the road and need assistance?

Residents in Southwest Colorado may find it useful to call 211 from any phone to receive free help to these and a number of other human service-related topics.

The 211 service has been widely available since about 2000 in the United States, but the information and referrals to health and human-services organizations caters mostly to larger cities. Volunteers have been working to provide local referral information to a call center in Grand Junction, where local calls are routed.

Southwest Connect and the Adult Education Center teamed up to compile the information for the five-county region, said Erica Keter, a project coordinator. The group has completed urgent-care referral data for the area, she said.

"It's time to spread the word," she said.

Callers can obtain information about homeless services, financial assistance, health care and emergency assistance.

If a visitor's car breaks down while passing through the area, the driver can call 211 to receive information about roadside assistance, the location of a homeless shelter or the Salvation Army, which can provide vouchers. If someone was abused, he or she can call 211 for referrals to agencies that can provide assistance. Or if someone is having trouble paying bills, 211 can refer residents to housing-assistance organizations in the area.

Keter said organizers will be distributing promotional material to help spread the word about 211.