Live United: United Way kicks off 2018-19 campaign

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, September 8, 2018

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Uniting the Way

UNITING THE WAY – Wise County Judge J.D. Clark meets and greets visitors during the 2018-19 United Way of Wise County kick-off program at the Decatur Conference Center Thursday. Clark was the featured speaker at the event. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

As Wise County grows, so do the needs of its more than 65,000 residents.

But help is coming.

The United Way of Wise County and the 30 organizations it assists kicked off its annual effort to serve the needs of the ever-growing community Thursday at the Decatur Conference Center.

The plan of action at the event? Live united.

Decatur Mayor and United Way of Wise County Executive Director Martin Woodruff led the crowd in chanting, “Live United’ before the luncheon began.

United Front

UNITED FRONT – Wise County Judge J.D. Clark, Decatur Mayor and United Way of Wise County executive director Martin Woodruff and Bob Wiley of the Wise County Veterans Group meet before the United Way of Wise County kick-off program at the Decatur Conference Center. The fundraising goal for 2018-19 is $450,000. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The sentiment was seen before the annual kickoff started, as residents and organizations set up tables for a meet and greet.

Fabio LaBrada of Raquel’s Wings, a charity that flies local cancer patients from Wise County to Houston for treatment was in attendance. Raquel’s Wings made 30 flights in 2017 and had already reached 40 flights this year.

LaBrada said one of the biggest benefits of the kickoff is to network with other organizations to better serve the community.

“We’re here to work with other organizations and non-profits,” LaBrada said. “So if maybe they have a kid for instance, one of them has cancer, I can go in and say, ‘go talk to these groups.’ It’s a chance for all the charities in Wise County to get together and work together.”

Thirty Wise County organizations attended. The groups provide basic services, youth development, children and family services and victims assistance in Wise County.

Wise County Judge J.D. Clark was this year’s featured speaker at the United Way Kickoff, where groups received donation pledges for the upcoming year.

The fundraising goal is $450,000.

In his speech, Clark addressed the growth of Wise County, and how it presents both greater needs and greater opportunities to serve.

“Because we grow, there’s more demand on services, but it also opens up a whole new group of people who maybe aren’t familiar with what the United Way does,” Clark said. “It’s a chance to reach out and in turn, explain to all those people what our nonprofits do.”

He noted Wise County’s population is at 65,000 in 2018 and is projected to nearly double in the next 22 years, reaching 105,000 by 2040. From Feb. 15 to Sept. 6, the county added 500 new addresses, Clark added.

Clark said a key way of addressing the needs will be integrating the growth into growth of fundraising and service – turning a problem into a solution.

“We need to work with our neighbors. We need to talk about managing growth,” Clark said. “We need to express what is important to the community by how they spend money. We need to think of people new to the community. We don’t want to lose our identity but we need to find new companies and individuals and tell them about United Way. We need people to work together.”

United Way of Wise County will participate in the North Texas Giving Day on Sept. 20. It will hold an event at Trinity Street Coffee at the Decatur square. For information or to make a donation, visit

Giving Back

GIVING BACK – Eric Roy, Melvin Castleberry and Doug Crowson of the Wise County Red Cross pose before the United Way of Wise County kick-off program at the Decatur Civic Center Thursday. The Red Cross was one of 30 groups that attended. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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