ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene non-profit City Square provides at-risk teens with critical resources such as meals, tutoring and even counseling. In early March, the organization received a new van right before an important trip, according to Head of Transportation Stephanie Hodge.

“We were getting ready to do our first college tour in Houston and we had a big crowd because it was for our seniors and juniors,” Hodge explained. “We were blessed to be able to get the van that week, that weekend before our college tour.”

It was made possible with the help of the United Way of Abilene.

Hodge went to United Way hoping for any kind of assistance. Greg Wilson, United’s Vice President and CFO, didn’t hesitate.

“We stepped up and said, ‘Yeah, we would love to help you guys with your transportation needs,'” Wilson explained.

City Square had one van already but felt they needed something else to accommodate their growing organization.

When asked how the process works, Wilson described, “We provide grants to other nonprofits so that they can do the work that they’re already doing because they are the experts. But we are the supporting backbone that helps them do what they do best.”

Hodge shared her excitement for many aspects of what this van will do, but one thing that stands out is pick-up and drop-off efficiency.

“We leave before 9:00 p.m. and I try to get the kids home since it’s in the middle of a school week, try to get the kids home before 9:00 p.m. so instead of making several routes here and picking up, it’s all, everybody loads up and we go,” Hodge explained.

However, some have mixed emotions, like Samuel, a junior at Abilene High School, who said he would volunteer to stay back while Hodge took other students home.

“I love to play basketball and it just like, shortens my time,” Samuel expressed.

There wasn’t enough space in the van, so staying behind and going home on the second route allowed him to stay and play basketball longer.

However, Samuel is happy for Hodge and the other mentors, knowing they won’t have to spend so much time driving.

“We all work together and again were grateful for United Way helping us. That’s just one less thing the kids, our teens will have to worry about, that’s something they shouldn’t have to worry about,” Hodge expressed.

Ultimately, Hodge and the rest of the City Square team are elated to know their students will have reliable and spacious transportation.