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The telephone rings and a social worker with the County's Just1Call program answers.

A caller on the other end of the line has a question: "Can you tell me where I can get help with transportation for my elderly mother? I don't live nearby and I worry that she's not getting to her medical appointments."

The call sets into motion the service for which Just1Call was created and now has become a model to emulate.

Little more than a year old, the information and referral program for Mecklenburg County seniors, adults with disabilities, their families and caregivers, is a success.

Numbers tallied from the program's start in September 2000 through November 2001 bear witness to its effectiveness. Here's some of what Just1Call can count:

Received over 13,000 telephone calls Received an estimated 15,000 visits to its World Wide Web site, some from as far away as South America Made nearly 30,000 referrals to more than 700 different service providers
"The use of the program and the outcomes have justified us being here," said Alan Geltman, program coordinator.

Geltman and the staff of Just1Call take pride in the work they do. Recently, five Just1Call social workers and one social worker supervisor became Certified Information & Referral Specialists:

Lewis Grubb, social worker Deann Kisch, social worker Wanda McCord, social worker Marty Prunty, social worker Nichole Potts, social worker Mike Taylor, social worker supervisor
 The six took a three-hour exam administered by the Alliance of Information & Referral Systems, Inc. (AIRS) to become certified.

AIRS is a professional association of information and referral providers across the United States, Canada and elsewhere, Geltman said. The organization -- which was incorporated in 1973 --has more than 1,000 agency members. Its purpose is to improve access to human services for all people.

Another social worker will seek his certification after serving on the team for one year, Geltman said, adding that his goal is for all of the social work staff to become certified.

"In studying for the exam, it improved on their skills and made them more aware of the standards," Geltman said of the staff. "It adds a tremendous amount of credibility to Just1Call. People know their call is being answered by professionals who are the most qualified in their field."

Social workers like what they do.

"I enjoy working with the J1C program because of the many varied calls and requests we get," said Marty Prunty. "Sometimes, if we do not have the requested information at our fingertips, we have to do some research to see if a resource might be available. In doing so, we learn more and become more effective."

Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS) and its Services for Adults division is the lead agency in the partnership of individuals and agencies who worked for several years to create Just1Call. DSS conducts and operates the program.

The Web address is, and the telephone number for the free service is 704-432-1111. Callers who speak a language other than English can be served, too.