ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — During Sunday night’s State of The City address, Mayor Anthony Williams awarded Director of Public Health Annette Lerma the Odis Dolton Good Neighbor Award.
“You’re going to make me cry,” said Lerma.
It’s been a hard year for public servants, especially Lerma.
“God gives enough strength for one day, and I have just held onto that each day, like, ‘Give me enough strength for this day,’ and so he’s been faithful,” said Lerma.
She went from being behind the scenes to front and center after the city manager gave her more responsibility during the early stages of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
“‘I am appointing you the czar of COVID-19, are you ready for that?’ and I said, ‘Sure,'” said Lerma.
Since then she has worked around the clock to bring testing into the city, receive COVID grants, and to make Abilene a vaccination hub.
Which is why she receiving the Good Neighbor award.
“When they told me, I almost thought I wasn’t worthy,” said Lerma.
The award is for people who cross lines to improve the lives of others, in honor of Odis Dolton and his years of dedication and service to Abilene.
“I am probably not in the same league as Odis, but obviously very honored to be chosen and even be considered,” said Lerma.
Lerma says she shares this award with volunteers and staff members like Hailey Shirley, who says Lerma has also been an incredible boss.
“She makes it known that she cares about us and wants us to succeed,” said Shirley.
Lerma also thanks her family.
“They have sacrificed quite a bit for me,” said Lerma.
Lerma says her family has been her rock through these times, and if it weren’t for them, she wouldn’t be where she is today.