Cooling Sations in Waco!

With temperatures soaring and the mercury reaching 100 degrees, The Salvation Army is taking measures to ensure the safety and well-being of those in need of respite. In response to the extreme heat conditions, The Salvation Army Cooling Station will be open and available to the public from noon until the temperatures lower each day.

The Cooling Station, located at 300 Webster in downtown Waco will serve as a refuge for individuals seeking relief from the scorching heat. The facility will operate during peak heat hours and provide a comfortable environment for residents to cool down and protect themselves from the potential risks associated with high temperatures.

Equipped with air conditioning and ample seating, the Cooling Station offers a safe space where residents can escape the heat and find relief. The facility will remain open during the heatwave, ensuring residents can access a cool and comfortable space when needed.  In addition to an air-conditioned environment, The Salvation Army Cooling Station will provide access to clean drinking water. Hydration is crucial during extreme heat, and the station will have water available to help residents stay hydrated and prevent heat-related illnesses.

Major James Taylor urges those who need it to take advantage of the Cooling Station’s services during this period of extreme heat. “The well-being of our community is our top priority,” said Major Taylor. “We encourage anyone, especially the elderly and individuals with no other location to cool off, to use the Cooling Station and stay cool and hydrated during these weather conditions.”

Residents are advised to dress comfortably, wear loose-fitting clothing, and bring any necessary personal items they may require during their stay at the Cooling Station. It is also recommended to check on vulnerable neighbors and loved ones, particularly those more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. 

Regular updates on the Cooling Station’s operations will be provided through official channels, including social media platforms and local news outlets.

LGBTQIA+ Online Resources: Online communities, resources help keep LGBTQ+ youth connected.

Written by: Robin Layton

As Americans regroup after two years of a pandemic lifestyle, studies are revealing that youth who are in the sexual and gender minority are experiencing depression and anxiety at a faster rate than other groups.

In fact, The Trevor Project 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that “45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year,” with 60% of the youth who wanted mental health care in the past year unable to access it. The survey also found that 73% of LGBTQ youth reported having symptoms of anxiety.

Being an LGBTQ young person, unfortunately, means that during their critical adolescent years, they can often feel isolated and misunderstood, lacking the resources they need to maintain their mental health. 

With pandemic-related measures in place across the country, youth are at an even greater risk of social isolation and depression. But online resources, including supportive and educational materials, can help them maintain mental and emotional health. 

In a Catch-22, the internet can make this necessary information accessible, but only if you have access to the internet. 

In this guide, Allconnect researchers take a look at available online resources, as well as address the digital divide and homeless issues within the LGBTQ youth community.

LGBTQ youth can face some unique challenges, such as higher rates of depression and suicide than their peers. A behavioral health report on youth.gov noted that suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth and young adults, and up to 33% of LGBTQ youth report having attempted suicide. LGBTQ high school students are also two to seven times more likely to commit suicide than their peers.

Along with all the pressures of growing into their own identities, they have increased risks of alcohol and drug use, bullying, peer pressure, depression, suicide attempts and high-risk sexual activities. LGBTQ youth and young adults may be kicked out of their homes, and often face homelessness.

Identifying as LGBTQ doesn’t cause depression or mental health issues. The cause is rooted within outside factors: Discrimination, family rejection, negative biases and bullying and hostile microaggressions that can lead to suicidal ideation, according to the report. When LGBTQ youth aren’t accepted for who they are, they have higher rates of stress, anxiety, depression, self-harm behaviors and other disturbances to mental health.

In addition, many LGBTQ youth are confronted with online bullying. Pre-pandemic, 32% of teens aged 14-17 spent about four hours in front of screens. As of June 2020, that number leaped to 62%, according to a Statista report.

Cyberbullying has made the internet a dangerous place for LGBTQ youth, and approximately 48.7% of LGBTQ students are victims of cyberbullying each year. This can be through private text messages or public posts on social media. Cyberbullying leads to high rates of psychological and emotional distress for LGBTQ+ youth, as well as low self-esteem, social isolation, depression and thoughts of suicide.

Other resource and advocacy groups

  • The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs – The program offers direct services to survivors of all forms of violence and their circle of family and friends. They also work on policy and advocacy, and provide “free, holistic legal services to LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors in all five boroughs of New York City in Family Court, Housing Court, Civil Court and with immigration matters.” 
  • GLAAD LGBTQ Resource List – GLAAD shares stories from the LGBTQ community and this list includes resources in politics, military, aging, legal and other sectors.
  • The TrevorLifeline – Provides a national crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for LGBTQ youth.
  • Homelessness Help – Provides resources for homeless LGBTQ individuals in crisis, as well as provides a reporting platform for housing discrimination or violations.
  • National Runaway Safeline – A hotline for youth who need someone to hear them, as well as for concerned adults.
  • The LGBT National Youth Talkline – Free and confidential peer support for LGBTQ youth 25 and under.
  • Trans Lifeline – Run by trans people, this lifeline provides peer support.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Free and confidential support for anyone in distress, suicide prevention and resources.
  • TheRecoveryVillage.com – A free web resource that provides information about addiction, eating disorders and mental health issues.

Surgeon General’s Advisory on Social Media Effect on Youth Mental Health, PANS Syndrome & Mental Health Support for SchoolsPart of June 15th Teen Suicide Prevention Symposium 

Education Service Center Region 12 staff, educators, mental health advocates and care providers will join forces for the 18th Annual Teen Suicide Prevention Symposium from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, June 15 at 2101 W. Loop 340 in Waco.

ESC Region 12 and Partners Cedar Crest Residential Treatment Center and Daybreak Health want to gather educators, mental health providers and community members to learn and take action to help save the lives of challenged youth. The event will encourage awareness, intervention and prevention of teen suicide, regarded as the ‘preventable epidemic’ among Texas youth. 

“This year’s event focuses on issues and trends impacting youth in many ways that educators, parents and care providers are seeing in our schools. From speakers on Pediatric Acute Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (or PANS), to discussions about the US Surgeon General’s Advisory on Social Media and its Effect on Youth Mental Health, we are presenting cutting-edge topics that have a direct impact on our teens and their mental health,” said Jenipher Janek, a counseling services coordinator and lead for the Region 12 School Crisis Response Team.  


The ESC Region 12 School Crisis Response Team includes ESC counselors and communication staff, school counselors and mental health advisors from the Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network. The group coordinates grief response and provides logistical and communications support, and crisis recovery at no cost to area schools. In the last year, the team has responded to 18 calls to support educators and students affected by the loss of a student, employee or other crisis incident impacting school operations, including loss of life to suicide. Part of this work includes connecting schools to mental health providers and creating awareness about TCHATT, the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine, which provides telemedicine or telehealth programs to school districts to help identify and assess the behavioral health needs of students and provide access to mental health services. 

Event partners, expecting 80 attendees, hope to bring in even more educators, mental health providers, police officers, counselors and emergency services personnel. Advance registration ($45) is requested at: txr12.escworks.net/catalog/session.aspx?session_id=297715. Schools in the Counseling Services Membership may send staff at no additional fee. For more on ESC Region 12 Counseling Services and School Support, visit bit.ly/2023ESC12
Additional event supporters include the Central Texas Regional Advisory Council, Heart of Texas Behavioral Health Network, Heart of Texas Regional Advisory Council, Heart of Texas Suicide Prevention Coalition and VOICE.

20 FOR TAILS

FAMILY ABUSE CENTER TO BUILD PET SHELTER

FOR SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Family Abuse Center is aiming to raise $20,000 by August 1 to build a pet shelter on their property so no domestic violence survivor who seeks their services has to leave a furry friend behind. 

As many as 48% of domestic violence survivors delay leaving an abuser out of concern for their pets, but when emergency shelters like theirs can welcome animals, that barrier to safety is eliminated. At this time, though, only 17% of domestic violence shelters accept pets.1 They’re ready to be one of them.

The Human-Animal Bond

There’s no denying that the human-animal bond is special, but most importantly for their clients, animals can play a critical role in healing. According to Johns Hopkins, “Research has shown that simply petting a dog lowers the stress hormone cortisol, while the social interaction between people and their dogs actually increases levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin.”2

When the Urban Resource Institute asked survivors about the role pets played in their healing, “91% indicated that their pets’ emotional support and physical protection are significant in their ability to survive and heal.”3 Having an animal nearby helps clients talk through tough conversations, teaches trust and empathy, encourages a sense of responsibility and provides a feeling of security. 

Keeping Pets Safe

Finally, welcoming pets to the shelter protects them from the unsafe person. What is often referred to as the Link tells us that there is a significant connection between human and animal violence. Especially in a domestic violence situation, abusers might target pets to maintain terror and fright, eliminate a source of support, force the family to return home or gain more power and control. Simply put, ensuring pets have a refuge keeps survivors and animals alive. 

The Family Abuse Center Mission

For these reasons, building a pet shelter is an important step in their mission to eliminate domestic violence in Central Texas by sheltering victims of domestic violence and by preventing abuse from occurring through intervention and education. If you’d like to be a part of giving survivors and their pets a safe place to heal together, donations can be made by visiting FamilyAbuseCenter.org/Donate.

If you or someone you know is at risk, please call Family Abuse Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-283-8401.

###

  1. https://www.purina.com/about-purina/purple-leash-project/the-issue 
  2. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-friend-who-keeps-you-young 
  3. https://www.thehotline.org/news/pets-are-critical-priority-for-survivors-seeking-safety/ 

THE DEEPER MEANING BEHIND NATIONAL DONUT DAY

This food-focused holiday is among the few with roots in charitable service.

National Donut Day calligraphy lettering and doughnut isolated on white . Vector template for typography poster, banner, flyer, sticker, t-shirt, postcard, emblem design, etc.

Waco, TX  June 2, 2023  On the first Friday in June, Americans celebrate all the gooey goodness of donuts. But many don’t know that National Donut Day has its roots in doing good. This sweet tradition dates back to World War I, when nearly 250 Salvation Army volunteers known as “Donut Lassies” traveled overseas to provide emotional and spiritual support and fried confections, supplies, and other services to troops on the front lines.

The Donut Lassies fried donuts in small pans and are credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when troops returned home from war. The Salvation Army in Chicago celebrated the first National Donut Day in 1938 to help those in need during the Great Depression and commemorate the Donut Lassies’ work.

For over a century, the organization has provided a wide range of essential services like food, shelter, and emotional and spiritual support to the most vulnerable and to many of the men and women serving on the front lines of need.

“This National Donut Day, as citizens of Waco celebrate with a sweet treat, we are proud to remember that this fun tradition started with our volunteers over a hundred years ago,” said Major Jim Taylor. “If you ask me, knowing that the day has its roots in the fight for good makes those glazed pastries taste even sweeter.”

To honor the history of Donut Day, The Salvation Army of Waco will celebrate by spending the day dropping off donuts to First Responders who fight the battle here at home.  A “Donut Lassie” will be handing out donuts to over 100 veterans at the VA hospital.  Another “Donut Lassie” will be at the HEB on Valley Mills to greet and meet guests as we partner with them statewide to celebrate this day.  HEB donated a portion of the donuts for the day and will be giving back 2% of all donut sales for the week (not prepackaged boxes) to The Salvation Army Waco.  Shipley’s makes over 20 dozen donuts for delivery as well.  

The best way to participate with The Salvation Army Waco is by volunteering either at the Family Store or the Community Kitchen and during the Holidays when Bell Ringing Season is here.   Volunteer activities are posted at:  The Salvation Army Waco/McLennan County – Volunteer Console (cervistech.com)  You can also support the Salvation Army financially by giving online at Donate to TSA Waco General Donation Page (salvationarmytexas.org)

For more information about The Salvation Army of Waco, please visit our website at:  https://southernusa.salvationarmy.org/waco  or call 254.756.7271 or email [email protected]

Metropolitan Planning Organization:

The Policy Board of the Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization will meet on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at the South Waco Community Center, 2815 Speight Avenue in Waco at 2:00 PM. This meeting will be open to the public. 

Policy Board members will consider actions regarding the MPO’s Unified Planning Work Program, 2022 Annual Project Listing (APL), and support for local applications for Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) grants. The Policy Board will receive updates regarding the MPO’s Carbon Reduction Program Call for Proposals, a public agency “Listening Roundtable” and significant highway construction within the Waco Metropolitan Area. 

Members of the public must attend in person. Public comments will only be accepted in person, and the meeting link will not be posted online. The meeting room will be arranged for physical distancing of Board members, staff, and the public. 

The meeting agenda will be posted to the MPO website three (3) days prior to the meeting on the meeting calendar athttps://www.waco-texas.com/Departments/Metropolitan-Planning-Organization/Meetings. Please note our website format has changed, and you will need to scroll to the calendar and select the “PB” meeting for more information. 

Persons with disabilities who may need auxiliary aids or services should contact the MPO at 254-750-5650 at least twenty-four (24) hours before this meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made. 

FREE ADMISSION FOR MOTHERS AT HAWAIIAN FALLS SATURDAY, MAY 13 – SUNDAY, MAY 14

Waterparks Open to the Public Mother’s Day Weekend 

Moms are the heart of every household. They know what we need before we even ask. And they rarely ask for anything in return. To honor them, Hawaiian Falls Waco is inviting Moms to enjoy complimentary admission Mother’s Day weekend when the waterparks open to the public.

Photos by David Alvey


In addition to free admission, Moms will receive a special Hawaiian-themed gift (while supplies last) SaturdayMay 13 and Sunday, May 14.

“We’re inviting mothers of all ages to come enjoy a day at the park to thank them for their selfless roles as cook, chauffeur, activity director, nurse, and countless other tasks they do for their families,” said Hawaiian Falls Marketing Director Ron Mckenzie. “We want Moms to enjoy a carefree day where others can wait on her. Float down the Lazy River and feel the stress melt away or recline in the shade and enjoy a cold drink while Dad races the kids down a slide. We want Mom to take away memories she’ll never forget.”

Hawaiian Falls will officially kick off the summer season with free admission to all active duty and retired military personnel with a valid Military ID Memorial Day Weekend, May 26 – May 29. The parks will be open daily beginning Friday, May 26.

Other special events planned throughout the summer include:

  • Father’s Day weekend – Dads get in free June 17 – 19
  • Champions Day – June 20 and July 22 Champions (individuals with special needs) and their families will have exclusive access to the park from 9 am -10 am. Champions tickets are FREE and family companion tickets are only $10 (limit 4).
  • World’s Largest Swimming Lesson – June 22
  • Independence Day weekend – Active duty and retired military personnel as well as first responders receive free admission.
  • Aloha Fest – July 15 in Roanoke, July 22 in Mansfield, and July 29 in Waco.
  • Family Fun Fridays throughout July with Ohana Games led by Hawaiian Falls Activity Director. 

Season passholders can visit their home park to process their passes from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. May 8 – 12 at the park’s front gate.

Hawaiian Falls Waterparks are located in Mansfield, Roanoke and Waco. More information about special events, operating hours, directions, tickets and season passes, are at hfalls.com.

In Celebration of the Public Library

By: Dr. Peaches Henry

I am relieved that the Llano County (Texas) commissioners kept their library system open and returned banned books to the library shelves.  Yet, I am dismayed that Missouri’s House voted to cut all funding for libraries in its version of the state’s annual budget, because the American Civil Liberties Union, the Missouri Association of School Librarians, and the Missouri Library Association are suing the state over the censorship of some books from school libraries across the state.  I do not intend to litigate the practice of banning books here.  [To get my view on that, see my 1992 essay “The Struggle for Tolerance: Race and Censorship in Huckleberry Finn.”]  Instead, during National Library Week (April 23-29), I want to celebrate the Waco McLennan County Library for the profound way it touches the lives of Wacoans.  

Our library provides essential services to children, families, individuals, and the community at large.  A truly remarkable place, the public library provides safe, accessible, one hundred percent free educational resources to everyone.  It pools local resources like educational offerings, job training, and computer or internet access and puts them all in one place for use by the whole community.  Whether you are a family looking for a fun story time, an immigrant looking for language help, a student working on a History Fair project, a person needing help on their taxes, or a homeless person looking for a place to cool off, you can find them all at the library—a place that has undergone transformation that makes it an altogether different place from the one previous generations enjoyed. 

Indeed, the modern public library that serves Waco McLennan County is not your grandparents’ library.  These days, there is more to the story when it comes to the library which provides services far beyond the traditional task of checking books in and out.  Even that has been transformed.  Patrons can access ebooks, emagazines, and audiobooks in the CloudLibrary and read them anywhere.  They can also check out a mind-boggling range of “Special Items” which include blood pressure kits, sensory backpacks for specials needs children, disc golf kits, discovery boxes, and puppet kits.  Special Items educational kits include flash cards, literacy kits for preschoolers, and STEAM kits for upper-elementary children.  Among the most prized of the special items are the free family passes to local museums and sites including the Mayborn Museum, Cameron Park Zoo, and the Dr. Pepper Museum to name a few.  The library’s Special Items collections offer free access to materials that many families cannot afford to purchase.  

The library also boasts numerous, varied children’s programs aimed all ages.  Everything from themed storytimes (money smart, STEAM, or super hero) to painting to a Minecraft and Roblox club to a look behind-the-scenes tour of the library to summer reading programs is available to children.  As a member of the Library Commission, I was delighted to judge the library’s inaugural Edible Book Festival on April Fool’s Day.

In addition to catering to children, the library also offers essential support to adult Wacoans.  It maintains partnerships with local entities which deliver needed services.  The Heart of Texas Goodwill, for instance, holds computer skills and financial literary classes at the library.  The Heart of Texas Workforce Solutions gives free one-on-one job skills training.  The library hosts books clubs such as Books & Brew or the Mystery Book Club.  It sponsors adult programs such as healthy crock pot cooking, an adult anime and manga club, and free tax preparation not to mention the work of the Genealogy Center.  

The modern Waco McLennan County Library is a completely different place from the old Palestine Carnegie Library that I used to walk to as a child.  Yet, in the most meaningful way, it  remains the same iconic institution that I grew up with.  The library is still the community hub that connects people to information, offers essential services and resources, brings people together, encourages lifelong learning, provides safe havens for children and adults, helps build healthy communities, and transports individuals around the world and to other worlds.  Like libraries around the state and nation, our local library is an important public institution that we must support and protect now more than ever.

Dr. Peaches Henry is a member of the Waco McLennan County Library Advisory Commission.

HB 2827

This proposed bill will drastically weaken regulations that have protected the North Bosque Watershed, Lake Waco and, in effect, the Waco Water Supply from pollution caused by dairy farms.


Background:

Prior to 2001, the Waco Water Supply was polluted as a result of dairy farmers spreading cow manure that would run off into the North Bosque River, and then into Lake Waco.  This caused the growth of algae that can kill fish and made our water smell and taste bad. In 2001, the City of Waco successfully advocated for the passage of state legislation that would mandate stricter permits for dairies on the North Bosque watershed, along with waste management regulations.  If you’ve been in Waco since that time, you will likely recall how poorly Waco water smelled and tasted during that time.

To date, while there has been significant improvement in the taste and smell of Waco water, the North Bosque River is still polluted and classified as impaired by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and as recently as 2022, TCEQ said more work needs to be done on this watershed. 

Proposed Legislation

HB 2827 would revert back to a permitting system that was allowed when the pollution into the watershed was at its peak. Further, it would reduce pollution prevention, testing and reporting, thus likely increasing pollution in the North Bosque River (and thus the Waco Water Supply). 

Of note, the bill’s author argues that the current law is an over-regulation. Also of note, there are nearly the same number of milk cows in the counties that touch the North Bosque watershed now as there were when the 2001 legislation was passed, and the trend indicates the number of milk cows are likely to increase.  However, with of the regulations in place, Waco’s water quality has improved.

Actions the City of Waco has taken to advocate for Waco’s Water Supply:

  • Communicated directly with the bill’s author, Waco’s elected State representatives, as well as the House Environmental Regulations Committee, in opposition to the bill.
  • Collaborated with local stakeholders like the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and Baylor University.
  • Engaged and informed families who own property along the North Bosque River to ensure they able to advocate appropriately.
  • Sent information the Bosque River Coalition membership.
  • Sent information to the Brazos River Authority. 
  • Engaged the EPA and TCEQ.
  • Engaged with other current and former local leaders and requesting advocacy for the Texas Legislature to oppose the passage of HB2827, or ensure there are drastic amendments made that protect the Waco Water Supply from harmful dairy farm pollution.  

Citizens with opposition to or concerns about HB 2827 can contact Rep. Anderson and Sen. Birdwell:  

About the City of Waco and Lake Waco

Lake Waco is a man-made reservoir located on the west side of Waco, in McLennan County, Texas. The City of Waco maintains the water rights to Lake Waco, which serves as the primary water source Waco as well as other cities including Bellmead,Hewitt, Robinson, Woodway and others. The City of Waco owns and operates water treatment facilities and is responsible for treating the water from the lake to make it safe for drinking and other uses.

Medicaid renewals are back! Act now to protect your health care coverage

Big changes are coming for Medicaid recipients! People who are on Medicaid must take action now to preserve their benefits or find new health insurance.

Tory Schafer of Highview Insurance sat down with Meg Wallace of Mobilize Waco to explain these important changes. Meg asked Tory questions as though she were a Medicaid recipient who has been hearing about changes in Medicaid.

~~~~~~~~

Meg: I keep hearing about people getting a letter saying they need to renew their Medicaid. What is this all about?

Tory: Medicaid has income and asset limits. You have to stay within those limits to maintain eligibility in the program. The state periodically needs to review your finances to be sure you’re still eligible.

M. I’ve gotten a letter like this more than once in the past couple of years, and when I called Medicaid they said don’t worry about it. Has something changed?

T. Yes. During the pandemic millions of people lost their jobs in a short amount of time, and the government was concerned about people losing health insurance. So during the Covid Public Health Emergency, the government paused disenrollment in Medicaid. As long as the Covid Public Health Emergency lasted, people wouldn’t have to provide their financial information and recertify. They could stay on Medicaid without doing that.

The Covid Public Health Emergency is ending this spring, so Medicaid will start what is called redetermination. That means Medicaid will once again need to review your finances to see if you’re still eligible. They are starting this process now!

M. So I need to watch for this letter!

T. If you haven’t received a letter about your Medicaid recently, you need to make sure Health and Human Services has your correct address. At YourTexasBenefits.com you can see if they have your current address on file and update it if you need to.

M. OK, I’ll check on that. Then, when I get the letter about my Medicaid, what do I do next?

T. Follow the instructions in the letter to reapply for a new period of benefits. The letter should tell you what you need to submit and how to submit it.

But even if you don’t get a letter, if you receive Medicaid, you need to take care of this, and there are people in Waco who can help.

M. Oh, thank goodness, because this stuff gets confusing. Who can help me if I need help?

T. In the Waco area, Heart of Texas Goodwill and Shepherd’s Heart will have staff assigned to help people submit their information. Call Heart of Texas Goodwill at 254-753-7337 or Shepherd’s Heart at 254-213-7833.

M. Thank you. I’m writing that down now! This change is going to affect so many people. Should we be worried?

T. Yes, we should. If people don’t follow through with this process, they will lose their Medicaid benefits. So please spread the word. If you know anyone on Medicaid, let them know they must recertify this time around.

Many people will still qualify for Medicaid, but some people will find out they’re no longer eligible.

M. Yikes! Who might that happen to?

T. Four groups of people are likely to find out they’re no longer eligible.

First, adults who were briefly unemployed during the pandemic and began receiving Medicaid as a result may have income now, so they won’t be eligible for Medicaid anymore.

Second, women who received pregnancy Medicaid during the pandemic and have since given birth will no longer be eligible.

Third, young adults who were on children’s Medicaid at the start of the pandemic and who have since turned 19 are now too old for children’s Medicaid.

Fourth, children who were receiving children’s Medicaid during the pandemic because their parents’ income was lower, may become ineligible because their parents’ income is too high now.

M. Wow. That’s a lot of people. What can they do if they aren’t eligible for Medicaid anymore?

T. It depends. Some people will be eligible for other health insurance programs, and some will not. But many people don’t even try to get health insurance because they think it’s too expensive or they won’t be eligible. This is a big mistake.

If you’re eligible for employer-paid benefits, your first step is to talk to the person in charge of benefits where you work. Your special enrollment period may last only 60 days after you lose Medicaid.

If you can’t get affordable health insurance through your employer, there’s a good chance marketplace insurance will work for you. Right now, because of new federal funding, more people than ever before who have limited income are eligible for ACA insurance with premiums less than $20 per month, and with low or no deductibles or copays.

If you can’t get coverage in one of those two ways, there are also local options such as Indigent Health Care and the Waco Family Medicine Good Health Card.

M. I had no idea there were so many possibilities. Who can help me look at my options?

T. We’ve built a website called Unlock Healthcare, at www.unlockhealth.care, to provide information about these health insurance programs, along with contact information for local people who can help.

M. OK. So I think it’s going to be all right. I just need to follow through.

T. That’s right. There really are a lot of good options. But now is the time to take action.

~~~~~

Tory Schafer is the owner of Highview Insurance and the primary builder of Unlock Healthcare.

Meg Wallace is the organizer and director of Mobilize Waco, formerly known as the Amberley Collaborative. Mobilize Waco is a disability justice coalition that works toward full participation and leadership by people with disabilities in the Waco area.