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Local United Way can help find resources to aid in paying the bills

Posted at 3:56 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 16:02:55-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It has been a long road for many during this pandemic. Whether you lost your job or are dealing with effects of COVID-19, there are resources available to help.

The United Way of the Coastal Bend created the COVID-19 Fund. As of Thursday, it has raised $664,207 to help over 90,000 Coastal Bend residents. Money raised has come from businesses, individual donors, and large corporations such as the recent donation of $250,000 from Charles Butt.

The UWCB said 100 percent of the funds raised will go to area organizations. Slightly more than half of the total amount raised already has been dispersed to 30 organizations locally.

Once these organizations have the funds available, they are able to help residents with bills, food, and any other kind of assistance.

Local entrepreneur Arnold Medina said when the pandemic hit, all of his work was canceled. Medina works in the event planning industry, and said events and parties have now been canceled for the entire year.

He said he's fallen on hard times before, but always was able to pick up extra work to make ends meet.

"This time, there wasn't any," he said. "So we had to be creative and take advantage of everything that is offered during this -- the pandemic."

He reached out to the United Way, which spoke with him about his situation and offered several resources. Medina needed help paying his utility bills, so the United Way of the Coastal Bend suggested he reach out to Mission 911.

Normally perceived as a homeless shelter, founder Tony Reyes said Mission 911 actually is transitional housing which has offered help in paying for rent and and utility bills since before the pandemic. Since, though, he said they have increased their services and offer other help such as a food pantry.

"I called on a Tuesday, they called me back on a Wednesday in the early afternoon, and by 5 o'clock that day, they had already written a check and put it in the mail," Medina said, visibly emotional about the help. "We would have lost all of our services on the first of April if it wasn't for Mission 911."

Mission 911 can be reached via its Facebook page, or by calling (361) 882-0911. Reyes said if no one answers, to leave a message because the organization always is checking voicemail.

Medina also said Catholic Charities also has provided assistance the last couple of months.

The United Way of the Coastal Bend wants to continue helping residents such as Medina, and plans to continue raising funds for the COVID-19 Fund until there no longer is a need.

"We see the long lines at the food distributions; we have lots of requests for utility assistance and rent assistance," said United Way of the Coastal Bend President and CEO Libby Averyt. "This economic downturn has just effected so many people in a negative way, that they just need a little help right now."

As for Medina, he knows it will be some time before events and parties again are a normal part of everyday life. Until then, he says he'll continue to use the United Way's services.

"I’ve been a business owner for years, and this was the very first time I couldn’t find an avenue to provide for my family other than using these services that were available," he said.