My favorite nonprofit organization, 211 San Diego, gave me a great honor this week. I was elected Chairman of the Board for 2021. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that such a great group of people would select me as their fearless (actually, not so much) leader.
I should have written about 211 more on this blog. In a nutshell, what we do is help San Diegans. We help the people who most need help. We help the homeless, the hungry (I’m not a big fan of the current phrase “food insecure”), those with mental health problems, those who are suffering from abuse, veterans with problems…you name it. One way to explain it is “If your life is in immediate danger, call 911. If you’re having trouble with life, call 211 and we’ll find help.”.
Turns out that the dial code 211 is a national number, set aside by the FCC as a help line. All cities/counties/states answer those calls, but some deliver services better than others. We think 211 San Diego is the finest service organization of its kind in the nation.
We run an organization of 200+ people, including a call center, an outreach team, medical specialists, data and analytics experts, project managers, and so on. When someone calls us for help, we scour the Earth to find community and social services that can help them, then we get them signed up for the same. And we follow up with them. Sometimes over and over, but that’s OK.
My more conservative friends may take umbrage with our organization facilitating the use of social services, many of which are funded through tax revenues (others are funded by private grants and donations). So be it. But I fall squarely on the side of “we’re the wealthiest country in history, and those of us with ability and resources have a moral obligation to help our neighbors who need help.” It’s not socialism, it’s moral and ethical common sense. One way or another we (211 San Diego) assist over half a million people per year with a problem in their lives. And that feels pretty great to me.