United Way of Abilene, city manager come to rescue for 211 Texas A Call for Help program


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Have you ever wondered who to call if you needed help paying bills, getting food for your family, or what to do during a natural disaster? 

211 Texas A Call for Help was created to provide those solutions, but has since been faced with potential budget cuts. 

On May 18th of 2019 a tornado hit Abilene, Texas, leaving many people feeling hopeless. 

After the May 2019 tornado left some Abilene residents feeling hopeless, 211 Program Director Mary Cooksey says they experienced more calls than ever. 

“So, when the tornado hit, we were able to not only find out who needed help, but also to help connect them to the help they needed in the recovery center,” said Cooksey. 

Jenny Goode, the chair of the 211 advisory board says that on a day-to-day basis they help residents with unmet needs, such as paying bills or feeding their families. 

“A lot of agencies who can provide those services, and so being able to call 211 and sort that out on the front end can help people in a crisis to resolve it really quickly,” said Goode.  

That makes 211 the one stop shop for accessing the agencies who can help. 

But the 2021 budget proposed cuts to 211 program would have eliminated staff positions. 

“Of course, it’s always disappointing to think that we’re going to lose resources in a program, we’re certainly sensitive to the challenges of making those difficult decisions,” said Goode. 

However, Dr. Cathy Ashby, president of United Way of Abilene recently negotiated with City Manager Robert Hanna to donate money in order to save the jobs and keep the program running efficiently. 

“By not losing a staff position, we can figure out some of the rest of the parts, but it we had lost a whole staff position, it would have had a major, major, major domino effect,” said Cooksey.  

So now the city can invest less money, but still remain a partner in the program, which will allow the 211 program to be able to answer your calls. 

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