The Arc of Katy, a local nonprofit that assists those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, discovered earlier this week that someone had cut the catalytic converters out of all four …
The Arc of Katy, a local nonprofit that assists those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, discovered earlier this week that someone had cut the catalytic converters out of all four buses the organization uses to transport participants to field trips. The buses had been idle since the COVID-19 crisis began but were slated to go back into use soon.
“Just this week we made the decision that we were going to start using two of (the buses) just to make some short trips, like over to (Mary Jo) Pekham Park and places like that,” said The Arc of Katy Board President Fred Shafer.
The Arc of Katy had been essentially closed down due to the pandemic up until about two weeks ago, Shafer said. The center, which provides opportunities for its participants to socialize and participate in a wide variety of activities, had opened back up with limited occupancy to ensure its members remained safe. About 16 participants are showing up each day now, Shafer said. Each is required to wear a mask or face shield to stay within state and county guidelines and keep them healthy.
Shafer said The Arc had filed a report with Katy PD after a staff member had come out to turn the buses on to ensure they were operational, something that has become a weekly ritual since operations stopped due to the novel coronavirus. When the buses were fired up Oct. 15, everything was fine, but when staff turned the engine over this week, the buses were extremely loud, which led to the discovery of the vandalism.
Shafer said the nonprofit was working with its insurance adjuster to establish what the cost to the nonprofit would be to install new catalytic converters. However, he said the Katy area community has already stepped in to help out after staffers announced the vandalism on social media with about $1,000 already raised as of Thursday afternoon even without the nonprofit actually soliciting for assistance.
“People just saw the information on social media and just started making donations,” Shafer said.
Shafer said The Arc may ask for help later but wants to have a fundraising goal in mind before asking for assistance. Setting a goal will help them be transparent in their fundraising efforts and ensure donors know the funds are being spent in good faith.
“I don’t want anybody to think that we would not use the funds for what (they donated it for),” Shafer said. “So, once we find out what (the cost) is, we can put that out as a target.”
Fortunately, Shafer said, other than the missing catalytic converters, the buses are in good shape and have been well-maintained. So, once the converters are replaced, there shouldn’t be any additional mechanical expenses as a result of this issue.
Shafer said the vandalism comes at a bad time because The Arc of Katy is a tuition based program where participants’ families pay a small amount of tuition that is offset by donations in order to keep the program running. With in-person activity on hold for an extended period of time due to COVID-19, the unexpected expense hits hard, he said.
However, Shafer said the staff at the center don’t wish ill upon the perpetrators of the crime, but rather hope they can find a better path in life.
Anyone wishing to help The Arc of Katy get back on the road can make a donation by visiting the nonprofit’s website at thearcofkaty.org/donation. If donors would like the funds to go toward bus repairs specifically, they should indicate so in the comments section of the online donation form.
Likewise, prepaid fuel cards to keep the buses running or any other in-kind donations are greatly appreciated, Shafer said. The Arc of Katy is also in need of craft supplies for art activities for participants.
“When we get donations of that nature, then we don’t have to spend money from our budget to purchase those,” he said.