History

The Aiken County HELP LINE/2-1-1 began operation as The Aiken County Crisis Line on December 1, 1977 and took just over 600 calls during the first year. In October 1978, the Aiken County Crisis Line petitioned for incorporation as a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. On November 10, 1978 it received its amended state charter as the Aiken County HELP LINE, Inc.

By 1980, 1,415 calls were taken and the operation moved from the Aiken Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Services to space provided by Aiken County.   In 1989 the first Teen Line was introduced, and by 1992 approximately 2400 calls were taken.

In 1995, HELP LINE held its first Board Retreat. The HELP LINE received its first two grants in 1997. One was from the Sisters of Charity (SOC) to establish Help Line House to assist welfare-to-work clients (this program was handed off to Goodwill when they arrived in Aiken to preclude redundant programs), and the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Grant to fund a full-time program coordinator.

Call volume for the HELP LINE had built to 3,681 including contracts to serve as the 24/7 emergency number for several community agencies. In 2000 an SOC grant provided start-up funding for the Community Voice Mail program, and in 2002 a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant enabled the HELP LINE to re-establish the TEEN LINE/YOUTH CENTRAL. This program remained at the HELP LINE until 2006.

In June 2002 we launched as the second 2-1-1 call center in South Carolina. Call volume increased from just over 5000 in 2001 to over 6900 in 2002.

In January, 2005 the Graniteville train wreck and chlorine release occurred. During the 16 day response, HELP LINE/2-1-1 took 2,811 calls directly relating to the disaster, in addition to the normal call volume. At the end of 2005, call volume approached 11,000.

Realizing the importance and role that the HELP LINE plays during a community crisis/disaster, the 2006 class for Leadership Aiken County nominated the Aiken County HELP LINE Inc. as its class project. Recognizing the HELP LINE’s need for stable, reliable and ongoing funding, Leadership class members submitted a request for funding from Aiken County Government.  Funding was received and has been each year since.  Aiken County Governments contribution to the Aiken County HELP LINE, Inc. displays the value that is places on its citizens needs.  This collaboration makes us a leader in our state as the Aiken County HELP LINE, Inc. is the only 211 Call Center in the state of South Carolina (out of 3 centers) that receives county funding.  We are also the only Call Center in the state with actual disaster training.

In 2008, Aiken County HELP LINE 211 began collaboration with the City of Aiken to offer non-emergency support to the city’s 911 service.  This allows the 911 number to be utilized for true emergencies only, and reduces the number of inappropriate calls to the 911 system.

While deeply rooted in Aiken County, the Aiken County HELP LINE 211 is also a member of the South Carolina 211 system.  This partnership allows us to utilize a state wide database that includes nearly 4,500 listings of agencies, services and resources to assist callers in need.  We also have the capacity to share phone technology to work as a seamless transition between call centers, should the need arise. If an emergency occurs in Aiken and we need additional phone support, we have the ability to transfer calls to another 211 Call Center within the state without call loss.

In January 2011, the Aiken County HELP LINE 211 recieved AIRS Accreditation (Alliance of Information & Referral Systems).

All Aiken County HELP LINE 211 call specialists are 100% AIRS CIRS certified (Certified Information & Referral Specialist).

 

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