United Way: 'We're here to listen'

United Way of Palo Pinto presented a $5,000 check to Back Pack Buddies in May.

United Way organizations across Texas, including Parker County and Palo Pinto County, are continuing to support those in need amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are heavily focused on how we can best continue to support our community partners. Each non-profit has had to change the way they operate while still continuing program services that help to meet the basic needs of those most vulnerable in our community,” United Way of Parker County Executive Director Le’Anne Taylor said. “The United Way of Parker County will continue to seek our businesses, organizations and individuals that share our mission to help improve lives in our community through giving. Every dollar matters and every dollar raised in Parker County stays in Parker County.”

United Way of Palo Pinto County Board President Christina Phenix said it hasn’t been an easy time, but everyone has come together to help one another and encourage each other during this time.

“As a rural community with many older residents, we have been concerned that it could affect this vulnerable population at a rapid rate. The good news has been that we have been significantly below average for the rate of infections and deaths in our county,” Phenix said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people all over the world. My heart goes out to everyone as we have all been affected one way or another. I’m sad for the teachers and students that did not get to end the school year with classmates. I pray fervently for essential and frontline workers. I pray for those families who suffered from losing their jobs and lost wages. I pray for those businesses that had to close their doors due to COVID-19.”

United Ways of Texas recently launched a statewide survey to assess the economic impact of COVID-19 on families.

“Every Texas family has felt the impact of COVID-19 and even though much of our state has re-opened, life remains uncertain,” United Ways of Texas President and CEO Adrianna Cueller Rojas said. “This survey represents an opportunity to better understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on Texans, to help inform state and community leaders in how best to support Texans in need. I believe that every Parker County family has felt the impact of COVID-19 in some way. There is not one person that has not witnessed the effects from the pandemic and the impact it has made on our everyday lives and our local economy.”

Taylor is encouraging Parker County families and individuals in need to fill out the survey.

“The survey that we are encouraging families and individuals to take will help us to determine the best ways to assist families and our local communities as we work together to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” Taylor said. “United Way of Parker County is here to listen. Your participation in this survey will help inform our community on what the most immediate needs are, as well as what the long-term needs are so that United Way, along with our community partners and funders, can work to respond to those needs.”

Phenix said United Way of Palo Pinto County has continued to keep its one-person office open throughout the pandemic to answer calls and emails from the community to answer questions, and direct residents to resources.

“We want our citizens to know that we are here and continue to provide information and search for assistance for the folks hit hardest by this pandemic,” Phenix said. “Our United Way recently presented Back Pack Buddies with a $5,000 check, which was a combination of funds from our local agency and United Way Worldwide. Back Pack Buddies is a local nonprofit that has been providing weekend lunch/snacks for the children in our county. This organization has been exhausting funds to serve three times the normal amount of children.”

Taylor said United Way of Parker County will still host the 32nd annual Peach Pedal, virtually, to raise funds for its community partners.

“It was a difficult decision, however, we feel that we need to move forward as safely as possible due to the fact that the Peach Pedal gathers almost 2,000 individuals a year from all over Texas to one location. We had to take into consideration the health and safety of the participants, volunteers, food vendors and rest stop stations. We still want to encourage people to get out, exercise and to do some good along the way by participating in this event virtually this year while still raising money for our community partners,” Taylor said. “All monies raised provide vital program funding for the following non-profits in our community including the following: CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center, Child Protective Services Board, Center of Hope, Freedom House, Manna, Parker County Committee on Aging, Sanctified Hope for Women and Stars and Strides Therapeutic Riding.

“For the United Way of Parker County, we have had to really come together and focus on how we fundraise going forward. When limitations are put on large gatherings and events, it becomes necessary to re-evaluate how we can continue to host fundraising events that support the local non-profits we partner with.”

To fill out the United Way survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/txcovid19impact.

For more information about United Way of Parker County visit www.unitedwayofparkercounty.org or call 817-596-5986. For more information about the virtual Peach Pedal, visit www.peachpedal.com.

For more information about United Way of Palo Pinto County visit the organization’s Facebook page or call 940-325-4848. 

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