Monday, August 22, 2011

Get Prepared & Stay Informed

We are well into the 2011 Hurricane Season and Florida is facing its first real threat to a storm with Hurricane Irene. Keep informed of the latest trajectory by visiting the National Hurricane Center.

211 Tampa Bay will be here providing you the latest information on storm preparation and recovery efforts. We work closely with local Emergency Management officials to ensure residents have the most current information. Stay informed by subscribing and reading our blog for the most current information. You can always live chat, Facebook or Tweet your questions and help during normal business hours or call or email 24 hours a day. 

It's still not too late to finalize your disaster plans. Make sure you and your family have a plan on when and how you will evacuate if needed. Get prepared & staying informed are your best way to help your family and friends. Get information from FEMA on how to prepare. You can also watch the informative videos below from our friends at Common Craft that explain how to create an emergency plan and what to put in your emergency kit. .



Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tips On Searching Our On-line Database

211 Tampa Bay provides all our database information to the general public on-line 24 hours a day. When you use our online database, you will see the same information that our caring professionals in the call center see when talking with you on the phone, email or live chat. Our online database lists more than 4,000 agency, programs and services in Pinellas, Citrus, Hernando, Lake & Sumter Counties in Florida to help individuals and families get connected to the help they need. To access our online database, go to our services website at www.211connects.org and click GET HELP in the menu. 


The challenge is that there are many ways to search for information using our online database therefore it can seem very daunting, but really our online database is deceptively simple. Here are some key things to know about our on-line database so you can successful get the search results you desire. 


1. Simple Searches. 
  • Common Searches. When you get to the front page of our online database, below our video and live chat links on the left hand side of the page, you will see a list of common searches. These are a list of the most common items people search and call us for information. If you simply click one of those links, you will be taken to a list of providers who can help with that topic. 
  • Search Box. When you get to the front page of our online database, you will notice an empty search box. If common searches are not your thing or what you are looking for is not there, simply type in the box the name of the item you are looking for. You can type a name of an organization, a topic, or a keyword to start your search. 
2. Filter by Zip Code. After you have started your search using the common searches or typing in the search box, you will next want to narrow down your search to a specific geographic area. The best way to narrow down is by zip code. After your search, on the right hand side of the page, you will see a Refine By Distance box where you can enter a zip code and choose the radius out from that zip code you would like to expand your search. See image 1.1 below.


IMAGE 1.1























3. Send Tab. After you find a listing you are interested in learning more about, click the name of the service to open that profile. Once you open the profile, you will see a series of tabs in the profile listing as noted in image 1.2 below. 

IMAGE 1.2





These tabs provide you all the information that agency, program or services has provided to use about what they do. If you click on the send tab, it will give you an option to send this profile listing to yourself or someone else. You can print it out, send it by email or text it to a wireless phone. This allows you to share this information with those in your life who need it. 

4. Advanced Searches. If you are needing to enter additional information to get the search you want, you can use the advanced search option. With the advanced search, you can enter details like city and refine your search by the area the service is located in or the area they serve. Additionally, you can search for specific volunteer or donation keywords or even homeless shelter bed information for Pinellas County. The advanced search gives you the option to design a specific search for you or someone you care about. Be careful using the advanced search, if you use too many criteria to narrow down your search, then you will return no results. Less is always more!


You can start an advanced search: (a) from within a profile choosing advanced search from under the Refine By Distance box as noted in image 1.1, or (b) by selecting Search as noted in image 1.3 and choosing Advanced Search from the main page.


5. Personalized Settings. You can also begin to personalize your 211 Tampa Bay Online Database search experience. To do that, you must create an account as noted in image 1.3 below. 


IMAGE 1.3


  • Create An Account. To create an account or access your account, click on the My Account link as noted in image 1.3. When creating an account, please click on Create A New Account link and complete the registration form. Please note, you must have immediate access to the email address you register your account with to verify your account or you will not be able to use your new account right away. After registration, a verification link is sent to your email asking you to click on the link to verify that address before you can start using your account. Once you have verified your account and then click on the My Account link, you can sign-in using the Existing Users Sign-in box on the right of the My Account page. 
  • Save Favorites. Once you log into your account, you can create groups and save search results to groups you create. After your log into your account, a new box will appear on the bottom right hand corner or each page called the Resource Groups box as noted in image 1.4 below. After your create a group, you can add any profile or list or resources from your search results to a group by using the pull down as noted in image 1.4 by selecting a group name and clicking the add button. Anytime you want to access this group information, you just need to log into your account and click on the group to access your list. The most relevant information on the profile will always appear. This is a easy way to get to your favorite or most used resources without having to do a search. 
IMAGE 1.4





























We hope these tips on searching our online database provides you with useful information that gets you the results you need and connects you to the services you desire. We would love to hear from you about this post or your experience using our online database. You can provide us feedback on how to improve our online tools by clicking on the red feedback button on any of our websites or on our on-line database. You can comment about this blog or your experience post by leaving comments here. 
 
If you need help with your search or would like to talk with someone about your situation, 211 Tampa Bay is available 24 hours a day by phone (call 211) or email (info@211tampabay.org). You can also engage with us through live chat, Facebook or Twitter during business hours.

To start your search on our on-line database, click here to get started. For a simple video showing a simple search,  clicking here to check our video. Happy searching!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Live Chat Now Available!

Starting today, 2-1-1 Tampa Bay is offering the option for the community to live chat with a professional in our call center Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm. At this time, we are only offering this during normal business hours with additional hours to be expanded in the future. Prior to initiating a chat, we ask for users to read and agree to a disclaimer that outlines our policy on use of the chat and how we use the information we obtain during the chat session. To start a chat session, visit our www.211connects.org site and click on the Click to Chat banner as seen below.
We now offer multiple ways to seek the assistance you need from a simple on-line search to engaging with one of our call center professionals. 24 hours a day, we can be reached by phone or email and you can search our on-line database for the same opportunities found in our call center. During business hours you can reach us by live chat or on Facebook or on Twitter. This provides an opportunity for individuals to contact us in the manner in which they are most comfortable using the tools they most prefer. 2-1-1 Tampa Bay is here when you need us and we look forward to talking with you soon.