United Way seeks pact with county

JOHNSTOWN – The United Way is seeking approval of a memorandum of understanding with Fulton County government to allow a contract for non-emergency call services with the county’s emergency management offices.

Amy Clinton, director of grants and public policy for the United Way of the Greater Capital Region, made the request during a presentation to the Board of Supervisors’ Human Services Committee recently. Her agency normally provides free help for those who need food, shelter and clothing after an emergency.

Clinton’s presentation centered on the United Way’s Northeast Region’s 2-1-1 Call Center. The center acts to take non-emergency phone calls from the public. She said calls are received for 12 counties – including, Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton counties – involving help from more than 1,700 agencies.

“211 is a national initiative,” she stated. “Our call center has been in business about 20 years.”

Clinton said the region had 722 calls for August, including 20 in August from Fulton County, which was up from 11 received in August 2012.

She said people can call 211 for non-emergency health and human services information and referrals. She said a live person can help the caller cut through confusion of multiple agencies. The line is available seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Clinton said the 2-1-1 Call Center is no done at no cost to the counties and sometimes assist the regular 911 Center.

“This is important in our region because it allows a single point of contact,” she said. “It’s a good partnership with the 911 call center.”

She said her agency now wishes to contact Fulton County’s 911 Communications Center and the office of county Civil Defense-Fire Coordinator Allan Polmateer to have a “conversation” about a possible memorandum of understanding between the county and the United Way’s Northeast Region’s 2-1-1 Call Center.

Clinton said her center has an annual budget of $160,000 for the 12 counties, and receives some state funding. She said her agency already has MOUs with eight of the 12 counties.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead told Clinton he was unaware of a possible “action item” between the United Way and the county.

But he said she should contact Polmateer and the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee as a “place to start.”

Clinton said an MOU is important to have because it allows for a “process for calls” after an emergency. She said such an agreement was especially helpful after the United Way was able to assist after Hurricane Sandy, which struck the Northeastern United States Oct. 29, 2012.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at