South Sound 2-1-1 Secures Prestigious AIRS Accredidation

South Sound 2-1-1, operated by United Way of Pierce County, is a free, easy-to-remember number, available in Pierce, Lewis and Thurston Counties that helps people cut through what can be a confusing and overwhelming maze of information and resources. Recently, South Sound 2-1-1 has demonstrated excellence in the information and referral services field by successfully completing a detailed professional accreditation process administered by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS).

AIRS is the national professional organization for information & referral programs.  AIRS accreditation is endorsed by both national and state entities as a benchmark for all I&R providers, 2-1-1 services in particular, and is the primary quality assurance mechanism for affirming information and referral excellence.

Accreditation is a multi-phase process that evaluates more than 200 distinct operational components. 

“Our 2-1-1 team worked tirelessly on documenting and submitting detailed information on all policies and procedures, service delivery standards, reporting capabilities, organizational information and more, to an AIRS evaluation team.  After each stage of the process, AIRS consultants either approved components or asked for additional information to review. Our database was thoroughly audited and examined and our service was also evaluated through multiple ‘secret shopper’ monitoring calls,” noted Program Manager, Penni Belcher.

South Sound 2-1-1 is one of only about 140 organizations in the United States and Canada to have successfully attained AIRS Accreditation. Being an AIRS accredited 2-1-1 call center demonstrates overall quality and effectiveness, as well as full compliance with the high standards established for professional information and referral service. AIRS is an international nonprofit professional association with a membership of more than 1,200 public and private organizations that bring people and services together through information and referral. Organizations such as 2-1-1 create and maintain databases of agencies and programs that offer services and disseminate that information through a variety of channels to individuals and communities.

Dona Ponepinto, President and CEO, United Way of Pierce County, added, “ South Sound 2-1-1 trained specialists offer compassion, understanding and advocacy to callers by assessing their needs and linking people directly to the resources that will help empower them with the information and knowledge to change their circumstances. This accreditation provides further evidence that this life-changing service is also managed exceptionally.”

Ponepinto went on to say, “Above all, we are grateful to everyone on the South Sound 2-1-1 team who made this possible. Last year, the 2-1-1 team assisted more than 89,000 contacts in three counties. In addition, our 2-1-1 navigator specialists connect individuals and organizations to community resources, while providing case management services that identify specific issues with housing, counseling, health, hunger and transportation.”

Ponepinto noted recently that The Legislative budget provided a $1 million over its base funding Washington 2-1-1 received $1 million -- getting that system a long way toward handling the system's call growth. Representatives from South Sound 2-1-1 and United Way of Pierce County were on hand numerous times to provide testimony to the Appropriations Committee during the process.

About United Way: United Way of Pierce County has a bold goal to lift 15,000 households out of poverty and into financial stability by 2028. We do this by helping move local households out of poverty in three ways: Meet basic needs for hungry children and families, Move people out of crisis via South Sound 2-1-1 and Improve family financial stability. We achieve this by mobilizing local businesses, community organizations, governmental agencies and individuals, to make a long-term measurable difference in our community. Together, we are creating a stronger community. To learn more or to join our fight against poverty in Pierce County, visit


For more information contact:

Katherine Ransom,

Vice President, Marketing & Communications,

United Way of Pierce County

253-284-2549 or