Leading SA: United Way of San Antonio CEO talks programs, resources available amid pandemic

Chris Martin joined Leading SA on Sunday

SAN ANTONIO – Over the last year, we have seen inequities and disparities come to light, including long lines at the San Antonio Food Bank and numerous people losing their jobs throughout the course of the pandemic.

But, there are programs and resources in place to help.

The CEO of the local chapter of United Way, Chris Martin, joined Leading SA on Sunday to discuss what resources and programs are available to those needing a helping hand.

Martin said the mission of the nonprofit is “Uniting our community to address our most critical issues in San Antonio and Bexar County.”

He added the pandemic also forced them to pivot early on.

“In just a couple of examples of that early on were our initiatives to provide emergency child care scholarships for our essential workers. Ultimately, they had to go to work. We had to make sure that their children were safe and taken care of. So we partnered with a number of organizations throughout the community to do that and also our initiative called ‘Get Shift Done.’ And that was focused on helping those from our hospitality industry earn a wage while they were providing services as volunteers at a number of our food pantries throughout the community to help provide food for those that needed it,” Martin said.

As the pandemic worsened, more and more issues became apparent.

The employment issues... food insecurity was certainly an issue. And then also violence and abuse were heightened as stress was probably at one of its all time highs for our community. We saw that through our two-on-one helpline. We had we had 100-150% increase in the number of calls that are on our information and referral line at the height of the pandemic,” Martin said.

To help with the economic and workforce issues, Martin said there are programs available.

“Certification programs helping people further their education, whether it’s through GEDs or attaining their GED or working toward a college degree. So a number there, but also things like financial coaching and helping people improve their credit score so that we support them in doing that and support them and in reducing their debt so that they’re in a much better position from a financial standpoint for their family and then on the wage inequities for women of color in our community. It’s about making sure that we’re, number one, an awareness campaign. But number two, it goes back to those training programs,” Martin said.

You can watch the full interview with Martin in the video player above.

More on KSAT:

Leading SA: SA Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Council Chair on top priority bills in the Texas Legislature

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.