With a common goal in mind, a group of Morris County concerned citizens gathered Jan. 12 in the cafetorium at Paul Pewitt High School to determine how to make the community around them even better.
Hosted by the Morris County Collaborative (MCC), the well-attended Town Hall meeting attracted residents from all sectors of the community. Created in mid-2018, the Morris County Collaborative is comprised of citizens representing Daingerfield, Omaha, Naples, Rocky Branch, Cason, Lone Star, Jenkins and Piney Heights. Representatives from local government, school districts and churches are also involved in the operations of the organization.
The group, the original brainchild of Daingerfield native Margine Mims, was chosen last year by the University of Texas in Austin to receive the prestigious Hogg Foundation grant in the amount of $410,000 The purpose of the grant, in partnership with Alliance for Greater Works. will be to improve the mental health and overall well-being of the Morris County community.
The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health was established in 1940 by the children of Texas Governor James Hogg. The original $2.5 million endowment came from the estate of Will C. Hogg, the eldest of the Hogg children. Upon his death in 1930, his sister Ima and his brother Mike established the Hogg Foundation for Mental Hygiene (the organization’s original name) in his memory.
“The weekend (Jan. 11-12) was amazing,” explained Beverly Austin, who is responsible for public relations for MCC. “There were a few objectives the Morris County Collaborative wanted to gain at the Town Hall. We wanted to first form partnerships and then gain a better understanding of what the Hogg Gr0ant is about. We also wanted to forge closer relationships with our communities. The Town Hall accomplished all of them. Over 18 agencies participated, set up booths and provided needed information to the general public. Some of those in attendance didn’t even know Morris County had these resources. That is why we need these partnerships. And, the community asked very good questions, provided good input on how our County can be even more helpful to its residents. Finally, the barbecue lunch was awesome and created laughter, fun and comradeship among our communities. We will do more of these in the future.”
During the two-day event, Dr. Susan Wolfe, a community psychologist who has spent her career working with community collaboratives, also presented results from baseline data collected last September. Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions related to the information and provide ideas and possible solutions to problems that have plagued the community for years.
“Our work is just getting started…,” Austin said. “Strengthening our community’s resilience and ensuring that all residents can achieve well-being will take everyone in our community—especially individuals who feel they have not been included in this sort of community discussion in the past. We’re hopeful that people who are new to this type of collaborative work will join us, too. Our doors are open. We have a lot to look forward to together and we need everyone’s perspective.”
During the weekend, Phi Theta Kappa students at Northeast Texas Community College were also trained on how to conduct a survey which will be administered to Morris County residents beginning Feb. 4. Additionally, a total of 18 agencies were also set up at the Town Hall meeting to provide valuable information about services.
For more information about the Morris County Collaborative, submit an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call any of the following board members: Randy Seybert, President, at 903-238-5079; Margine Mims, Founding Director, at 903-800-0049; Beverly Austin, Secretary, at 903-305-2277 or Martha Baker, Resource Manager, at 903-720-2792.