Call 211

Call 211 
lyrics by Tim Griffin, Heather Black, Richard LaPratt, and Sarah Kile
may be sung to the tune of “Oh Lonesome Me” by Don Gibson

Well, everybody needs a little help sometimes
Someone you can call to ease your worried mind
You need advice but who’ll you get it from?
Call 211.

You know the paramedics or police or fire
Will answer 911 when that’s what you require
But when some good advice is all you want
You can call 211.

When things are looking bad, now wouldn’t you be glad
To call a friend who’s local to your town
Those things you’re going through, we may have been there too
And we’ll help you make a plan to work it out

For food assistance, mental health, or elder care
For everything but 911 is why we’re there
We’ll make a plan to help you get it done
Call 211.

When things are looking bad, now wouldn’t you be glad
To find a friend who knows their way around
We know a thing or two, like where and how and who
You can turn to when your world is upside down

We’ll help you navigate the big bureaucracy
For any kind of help that’s non-emergency
We’ll help you find the tools to get it done
When you call 211, call 211.


I met some lovely people from the United Way at a gathering for nonprofit leaders, and we discussed how music can be a great tool for getting a message into people's heads. They asked if I could write a song about their 211 program and I said sure, WE could write a song. A few weeks later, we met on Zoom and went through the same writing process I use with kids and adults in all my workshops; this is what we got. They later performed the song at a national gathering of their colleagues and had the whole audience singing along. Go 211 gang!

This song is not written to meet any specific academic standards, but I am including it in our social studies section because it may provide a good starting point for a discussion about how people in a civil society can help each other deal with problems that can affect all of us.

A message to other nonprofits: if you would like to collaborate on a song like this one to get a message out about your mission, let's discuss!