Connect2Help’s history is long, a little complicated, and deeply rooted in helping others in Central Indiana and beyond in new and innovative ways.
We published our first Community Resources Handbook in Indianapolis in 1924. In 1946, we started the call center portion of our work, partly as a response to the veterans returning from World War II who were looking for help. Over the years, we eventually became part of the Community Services Council which in turn became United Way of Central Indiana (UWCI). By 1974, the Community Resources Handbook had become the much-beloved Rainbow Book (a color-coded directory of local non-profits, often referred to as the “social workers’ bible”) and contained information on over 900 programs and services. We formally divested from UWCI in 1987 and became a stand-alone non-profit, the Information and Referral Network. Here are some of the highlights of our 30+ year history after we became our own, stand-alone 501(c)3.
• 1987 – We begin. Information and Referral Network (IRN) becomes it’s own 501(c)3. In the beginning years, we were known as ‘The Network’ and later as ‘The Helpline.’
• Early to mid 1990s — most I&R specialists are trained volunteers. IRN volunteers were expected to give about 5 hours per week answering calls. The volunteers worked from phone books and rolodexes of information to provide referrals. They worked using a callback system.
• 1994 – The Rainbow Book™ becomes an officially trademarked publication.
• 2000 – The IRN database is computerized. About 10% of calls that year were entered directly into the I&R software, which started a paperless system. The IRN board creates the 24/7 taskforce to explore the need and logistics of expanding the Helpline services further.
• 2004 – We took on on the 2-1-1 dialing code began offering services on a 24/7/365 basis. At that time, we were serving 8 central Indiana counties during the day and about 80% of the state after hours. In addition to helping with social services, 2-1-1 is promoted widely as the number to dial during a disaster.
• 2006 – Our name changes to Connect2Help.
• 2002 to present – AIRS accreditation in 2002, our partnerships and collaborative projects took off. Here are some of the many entities we have partnered with over the years.
• 2012 – Connect2Help and the other 211s throughout the state work together so that 100% of Indiana is covered when 2-1-1 is dialed. C2H’s 24 hour service area is expanded to 25 counties across the state.
• 2014 – Connect2Help helps Indianapolis residents survive the ‘polar vortex’ in January. During the year, the IndyEAP partnership is formed between United Way of Central Indiana, John Boner Community Center, and Connect2Help. C2H’s role is to answer all EAP calls for Marion County, screen clients, set appointments, and process applications.
• 2015 – We update our logo to incorporate our commitment and brand identity as a proud 2-1-1 center. That same year, our service area expanded to 35 counties.
• 2016 –The C2H website has its 1,000,000th visitor. Text to Help is launched in April 2016. The C2H Data Analytics Department was recognized internationally, winning the Alteryx Excellence Award for “using data for good” after partnering with Tableau and the Data School of London.
• 2017 – After an extensive search, C2H moved into our beautiful new offices in The Villages building. We expanded our available workstation space and during the fiscal year helped over 500,000 Hoosiers through our call, text, email, and web services.