Friday, February 11, is PA 211 Day.

It's a day the United Way of Erie County sets aside every year to celebrate the organization's 211 Helpline.

The 211 Helpline is a referral service that is similar to 9-11.

You simply call 211, and a trained professional will connect you to an organization that can best assist you with your needs.

“We have a comprehensive database of over one thousand different services here in Erie County,” said United Way Vice President of Community Impact Mike Jaruszewicz. “We have trained, professional resource navigators who when someone calls 211, they’ll work with them to understand what their needs are and can make multiple referrals directly to that caller.”

Every six months, the United Way releases a trend report of what people are requesting.

The most recent report found that the number one need is utility assistance, which made up about 40 percent of calls.

"We try to make multiple referrals,” said Jaruszewicz. “Even though that crisis for that person in that moment is utility assistance, there's likely other supports within 211 that can help them offset some of the other funding needs that they have at their home.

Nearly 25 percent of the calls were from people in need of housing and shelter.

Since launching in 2017, 211 has helped connect more than 42,000 people with the social services that they need.

The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

At 10 a.m. on Friday, the United Way of Erie County will host a virtual event to celebrate the helpline's fifth anniversary.

This story is supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.