The E-T is hosting a contest in which residents have been asked to nominate their favorite local Everyday Hero, involved in any capacity of everyday life — from healthcare workers to community volunteers to grocery store clerks and everything in between — who have made an impact on others. The overall Everyday Hero winner, to be decided by vote of E-T readers, will receive a $100 gift card.

The E-T has been spotlighting nominees, and the current one is Lisa Scroggins, the executive director of the Erath County United Way.

The economic effects of the COVID-19 virus have increased the number of vulnerable families that are struggling to pay their rent and utilities and to feed their children. Lisa Scroggins heard one such local story first-hand recently when she received a phone call from a single mother of a 1-1/2-year-old child. The mom had been working as a hairdresser until the virus-related shutdown of hair salons temporarily left her with no income.

“She was struggling, and didn’t know how she was going to pay the rent,” said Scroggins, who heard the despair in the young woman’s voice over the phone. “She was crying. She had never asked for help, and didn’t know how (to ask). I said, ‘honey, we’ve all been where you are, at one point or another.’ We paid her rent, and some of her utilities.”

Scroggins added, “It kills me to see families with small children, struggling to survive.”

She said it’s important to her to “help somebody in their darkest times, and make a difference. And it’s not a handout, it’s a hand up.”

Erath County United Way announced in April that it was starting its COVID-19 Community Response Fund, which can help those most in need with a maximum one-time payment of $500 to help with mortgage payment, rent or utilities. For that fund, the ECUW will match community donations up to $25,000 total.

“We’re funding people who have been laid off or furloughed,” Scroggins said. “We have never done this before.”

ECUW and Meals on Wheels are partnering to help local senior citizens during this difficult time, organizing volunteer shoppers (call 254-965-3510 for details, or email to volunteer) to provide help in getting crucial groceries and medication to that segment of the community — which is among the most vulnerable to the virus threat.

Of course, ECUW has done plenty of other things to help in the county over the years. The list of groups they help fund includes: Backpack Buddies, Cross Timbers CASA, Cross Timbers Family Services, Chapter 236 of Disabled American Veterans, Dublin Goodfellows, Dublin Senior Citizens Center, Erath County 4-H, Erath County Child Welfare Board, Erath County Meals on Wheels, H.O.PE., Inc., Paluxy River Children’s Advocacy Center, STAR Council on Substance Abuse, Stephenville School Supply Project, TSU Upward Bound, The LOVE Basket, T.R.E.A.T Riding, and Treehouse Afterschool Program.

Scroggins was named as the executive director in December 2013 by the Erath County United Way Board of Directors.

She said she felt a need to get involve after “just seeing what all the United Way did in the community. They help a lot of small agencies, and make sure they were able to support the community. We are trying to help people in the community that need help the most.”

In April, she began volunteering her time to also assist in person with the setup at Chamberlin Elementary School for local distribution of food supplied by the Tarrant Food Bank, and in partnership with H.O.P.E., Inc.

“We’ve had an amazing turnout,” Scroggins said, noting that teachers and ISD staff members have helped with that SISD food program, as well as students who volunteer their time.

Scroggins was born in Andrews, and later lived in Childress before moving to Erath County in 1990. She worked for STAR Council for about seven years, when Darrell W. Brown was the executive director. Scroggins then was the secretary for the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce for four or five years, she said.

Also, she noted, “I got my Assisted Living Administrator License and ran Oakwood Assisted Living for maybe five or six years,” she said.

Lisa and her husband, Jim Scroggins, have four children and seven grandchildren. Jim owns Circle J Backhoe.

At age 59, she hopes to be able to continue in her leadership role with the ECUW. Scroggins, whose involvement first started as a member of the ECUW Board of Directors in 1995, comes up for a review as executive director once a year.

“As long as I can be effective and help some people in the community, and the board is happy with what I’m doing, then I’m happy to stay,” Scroggins said. “If it wasn’t for the Board of Directors, this United Way would not be as effective as it is. We’ve got a diverse board. They touch lives in every aspect of our community. They’ll work from daylight till dark.”