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United Way says they can't help with electric bills like they have in recent years

Posted at 6:03 AM, Jan 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-05 07:03:21-05

TEMPLE, Texas — Winter weather is here and for some people, that means a higher electric bill.

United Way of Central Texas is normally a good place to start if you need some help with that.

The organization usually works with local cities to help people with utility bills by giving grants, but they don’t have them this time.

"This years is a little tougher because a lot of these agencies that received grants, did not receive them this year,” said Veshell Greene, VP of Resource Development for United Way of Central Texas.

"That's partially because it was residual money because of COVID.”

In the 211 call center at United Way, the phones never seem to stop ringing and that is where you will find Diamond Martinez—that friendly voice on the other end for the past 20 years.

"It could be anybody,” Martinez said.

"It could be one of my family members. It could be somebody that I know, and I always want to be there for someone.”

She's there to help connect you to the resources you need, if she can.

Not being able to help with utilities likes she used to is hard on her.

"It’s heart breaking,” Martinez said.

"It's heartbreaking to tell someone that there’s nothing out there. It's very concerning to know that there’s somebody out there, in their home, with no lights on.”

Just because they are giving out grants doesn’t mean they can’t find someone who can.

"If a company, or church, or an agency has funding, it’s in our database,” Greene said.

That database is always changing.

"I want people to understand that they should always call back because there’s always going to be some other agency or program that comes up,” Martinez said.

"It might not be today and it might not be tomorrow but it will be coming up.”

Several other organizations are also seeing a lack of funds they normally use to help with utility bills because much of that came from COVID relief funds over the last few years.