United Way: Making a difference

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Oct 9, 2007 - Hopkins County United Way is more than just a name — it’s the citizens, groups and businesses throughout the county coming together to make a difference in the lives affected by the 16 agencies designated to receive money from this year’s fund-raising campaign.

Staff Photo by Angela PItts

Dwight Alexander, author of “Through These Doors,” talks to Hopkins County United Way campaign workers  about ways to achieve goals, including a positive attitude and visualizing achieving the goal during their kickoff at Southwest Dairy Museum Friday.

That’s the message motivational speaker Dwight Alexander, author of “Through These Doors,” delivered at Friday’s HCUW campaign workers kickoff at Southwest Dairy Museum: ,aking a difference.

Alexander expressed his belief that not only can the $145,000 fund-raising goal be met in one month, but it can be exceeded, provided campaign workers believe they can make a difference.

He said no matter what problem or situation you approach, having a positive attitude helps accomplish goals. You also have to be willing to assume responsibility for your part in accomplishing that goal. He said being able to see in your mind where you are and where you’re going are important as well.

Alexander discovered the impact charitable groups have  following a wreck in 1999 which claimed the life of his wife of 18 years, Tina, and resulted in both of his sons being injured. Younger son Collin benefited from donated medical equipment, but groups also gave them items such as Nintendos to use while recuperating, something to help maintain normalcy and distract from their difficulties.

�Life is much better due to charitable groups like United Way,� Alexander said. �They�re great. You have no idea what organizations like United Way can do.

�See, you and I have no need for anything these groups listed here today,� Alexander added, pointing to the pamphlet listing all of the agencies designated to benefit from this year�s fund drive. �But that could change tomorrow. That experience taught me I am no exception. You are no exception.�

He said keeping a positive attitude while visualizing and believing in his recovery were important to his older son, Grant, 15 at the time of the crash. Grant was in a coma for 10 weeks, and Dwight quickly figured out that it was important not to think of his sick son in the coma, hooked up to tubes and a ventilator, but to visualize his son out of the coma, playing golf again.

Every night, as he went to say goodbye, Alexander would stop, find a spot on Grant’s forehead not injured or covered with medical equipment, and place a kiss there. As he did, he said, he’d pray with his son, and tell him he was one day closer to waking up and being out on the greens.

After Grant came out of the coma, Alexander continued to stay positive and concentrate on his son being better. It took 16 months for Grant to say his first word, 18 months to take his first step. His son had to relearn to do everything all over again. But eventually both boys returned to school, and Grant accepted his diploma along with the rest of his class in 2002.

�If you visualize your goal you can be there � put it in practice, believe it,� Alexander said in closing. �This [campaign] can happen in one month. You can make a difference. You can do it, you make a difference through United Way.�

Hopkins County United Way campaign workers collected packets to be distributed to businesses in the community for donations to this year’s campaign.

Workers will begin turning in packets during the first of three workers meetings Tuesday, Oct. 16. The remaining meetings will be the two following Tuesdays. All worker meetings begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be held at Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s campaign goal is to raise at least $145,000 to benefit 16 local agencies. Campaign Chairman Randal Voss said this year’s theme “Keeping It Fun! With Hopkins County United Way” is designed to provide for the agencies which assist with basic needs, which will enable children to keep having fun instead of worrying about adult issues such as food and medicine, as well as provide funding to programs designed to enrich children’s lives.

The agencies designated to receive funding from this year’s campaign are: Community Chest, $55,000; 4-H Club, $3,000; Teen Court, $1,500; Girl Scouts, $2,500; Hopkins County Community Action Network, $9,000; East Texas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, $3,000; Hopkins County Christian Alliance, $10,000; Family Haven, $4,000; Court Appointed Special Advocates for children, $9,000; Hopkins County child Protective Services, $4,000; Boys and Girls Club, $5,000; Northeast Texas Food Bank, $5,000; Heritage Outreach Ministry Foundation, $4,000; Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center, Inc., $4,500; Meal A Day Center, $5,000; and Our Place $4,000. Also, $1,450 will go to United Way of America which works cooperatively with the local United Way; and $15,050 will go toward administrative expenses, including the salary for part-time secretary, supplies and utilities, campaign materials and expenses.

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