ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The United Way held a Monday afternoon news conference to celebrate the $1,122,785.76 raised this year to assist those in Abilene affected by the winter storm, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as those still recovering from the 2019 tornado. t

“We are known in Abilene for being friendly and being caring and I think this million-dollar milestone just marks that,” says United Way of Abilene CEO Dr. Cathy Ashby.

The Shelton Family Foundation, Dian Graves Owen Foundation, Christian Service Center, AEP Foundation, First Baptist Church, St. Vincent’s de Paul Society, Boots on the Ground, and the City of Abilene were recognized for their assistance in this milestone achievement.

“It’s not a government entity, It’s not a political group, it’s neighbors helping neighbors that are the most efficient,” Ashby says.

Of the many roles in which these entities served, the housing crisis was one of the largest in the past two years. Since 2018, the Christian Service Center has worked with the United Way to get rent relief and budgeting classes to the residents of Abilene. It’s a service that was greatly needed in 2020.

“She (Dr. Ashby) said, ‘We want to give you $10,000 and you’re going to help people with rent, and we’re going to do all the vetting and so on,'” says Director of the Christian Service Center Jim Clark.

They were able to get that $10,000 to tenants in need by employing furloughed city workers to monitor the application process. By the end of 2020, the United Way had dispersed $100,000 in rent relief through the center.

“Cathy approached us at the first of 2021 and said, ‘Jim, I really think that COVID is gonna continue in 2021,’ and of course she was right,” Clark says.

This year the United Way says they’ve been able to keep 800 Abilene families housed and safe through the generosity of the community, paying rent relief directly to landlords and mortgage and utility companies. It’s cause for celebration, but the need is still great.

“They’re still going through hard times. It’s never a one-time fix,” says Ashby.

“One church, one foundation can’t do it all. But there’s an amazing amount of unity in this community,” Clark said. “We are privileged to help people who are struggling financially. It’s our calling. It’s our mission.”

United way of Abilene Donation information or text “Mind the Gap” to 41444 for assistance

Christian Service Center assistance information