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When we celebrate the holidays in our office, it’s our tradition to recognize staff who have reached their tenth anniversary of employment with us. This year we honored Bill Kay and Deborah Beres, two members of our staff whose dedication and expertise have shaped the organization in very significant ways.
Bill Kay is our telecommunications guru. Bill was a part of NJ 2-1-1 when we had 11 separate call centers with a multitude of different communication systems. Laura Zink Marx, our founding executive director, met and recruited Bill shortly after he retired from an executive position at Verizon. As technology has changed, Bill has kept NJ 2-1-1 in step. His dedication to our organization is evident in all that he does for 2-1-1, from remedying an individual’s phone snafus to transporting our telecommunications systems to the cloud. He’s remarkable and invaluable to our organization.
Deborah Beres is equally essential to NJ 2-1-1’s inner workings. Deb started as a volunteer with the Parsippany call center, First Call for Help. She was initially adding resources to our database, but her database development and computer programming experience quickly got recognized and her part-time, volunteer position soon became a full-time job. For many years she was the sole database resource specialist in our office, growing the database and maintaining those essential resources. Anyone who knows non-profits knows that talented people are always asked to take on new roles and Deb was soon charged with both building a data reporting system and building the IT infrastructure needed to support our growing organization. Over time and with an ever growing number of special initiatives and partnerships, these roles each snowballed into distinct full-time positions. Deb is now fully responsible for the integrity of our statistical data, the generation of all of our reports, AND she is still the person we turn to when our computers are not behaving or the server has hiccupped!
Nearly a year has passed since NJ 2-1-1 received word from the Governor’s office asking us if we would handle calls for ReachNJ, the state’s addiction helpline. Since our partnership began, we have responded to nearly 16,000 calls for ReachNJ and thousands of other individuals have sought help through www.reachnj.gov and www.nj211.org.
In recent weeks we were pleased to welcome TV crews from NBC and Telemundo 47 Investiga who were each reporting on the opioid epidemic in the tristate area. A segment spotlighting our call center’s work was broadcast by NBC on Wednesday, December 13. Pat Battle, a well-known journalist from the network encouraged viewers to take that step towards recovery by calling ReachNJ. From the call center floor she implored, “…no judgement here. They are here to help. Specialists are standing by. ...it’s a difficult phone call to make, but they will navigate you through it and get you some help.”
If you are suffering with addiction, choose hope; get help. Call 844.REACHNJ (844.732.2465).
We are reaching out to physicians across the state as we begin the new year. Supported by funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the New Jersey Department of Health - Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, we’ve created a video asking doctors to add NJ 2-1-1 to their treatment plans as they strive to serve people who may be in need of more than medical guidance, therapies and a prescription. When basic needs (like food, clothing, affordable housing, etc.) go unmet, health suffers. NJ 2-1-1 is the place to call when patients need this kind of help. We will also put them in touch with local diabetes management and prevention classes if the need is there.