Improving Lives of Other With Unity
Want to win a battle? Create some unity.
That’s what Charlotte Watson, her mother Shirley Watson and her aunt Patricia Wilborn of Ennis did. As executive director of Unity in the Community, Charlotte is leading a nonprofit organization that is helping improve the lives of elderly, underprivileged and misinformed citizens of the community.
“Basically, we focus on three community areas: 1. Senior citizens, their quality of life and growing older gracefully; 2. Health and wellness in the community; 3. Cultural and educational awareness,” Charlotte said. “The word ‘unity’ is important. Until every person in the community has every life need fulfilled, there is still work to do. Our cities are made up of families. If our families are healthy, our neighborhoods and cities will be healthy.
“If individuals are not physically, mentally or emotionally healthy, it affects us all. Although I realize we can’t reach every person, we can try. We believe that we are a part of a larger family where everyone has a responsibility to do something – not everything, but only what they can do.”
The idea for Unity came after her grandfather became ill in 2000. His eyesight was failing and he was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer.
Making Life Easier For Seniors
“My aunt Patricia, a now retired RN, along with the other nine siblings and grandchildren, began to research ways to make his life comfortable. My grandmother wasn’t ill, but as they both were growing older, it was apparent that life as they once knew it would be different. Their failing eyesight and limited mobility was becoming a challenge and so were the resources that were available to them,” Charlotte said.
“My grandparents had been hard working and successful business owners and pillars in the community who had a strong support system. Yet, even as professionally connected as my mother and her siblings were, medical resources, assistance and information was difficult to locate and secure, especially since they did not fall into a certain income level.”
Exhausted and lamenting over the challenge, Charlotte said they began to shift their thoughts to those seniors who have no strong support system, technology or simply wouldn’t know where to start in getting medical services, proper medical documents or information for ailing parents.
“That day we decided that no one should have to struggle with this,” she said. “That is when the vision of the first health fair event was put into action. The rest is history.”
Casino Night March 25
This Friday, March 25, Unity is hosting Casino Night. The fundraiser is at 7 p.m. at the Ennis Welcome Center.
“We are extremely excited about the upcoming Casino Night. Unity’s advisory board, with Dr. Gregory Hayes, chairing this event, has brought this fundraiser to assist in fueling events that benefit the community,” Charlotte said.
Other things Unity does to help the community include an annual Power in Wellness Health Fair. They provide medical screenings, health information, free checkups, blood drives, mammograms, etc. Charlotte said they have been cited as having the longest running health fair in the county, with this being their 21st year (they missed a year due to the pandemic).
Learn over Lunch
Quarterly, they have a Learn over Lunch for seniors and caregivers. They solicit businesses or organizations to come and share information that will be an added value to their lives. Free to the attendees, they have had sessions such as exercising with limited mobility, cooking in a crockpot, wills and other medical forms, final arrangement planning, pot gardening and other topics of interest.
Unity also hosts an annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Celebration and Community Service Award. In the spirit of Dr. King, Jr., individuals are nominated for their service to the community. Then, the recipient is honored at the celebration in the name of Lovia Boyd, a well-known Ellis County activist.
Blues on Main
Blues on Main is a cultural blues event that is a joint partnership with the City of Ennis. The event happens on the second Saturday of June. The health fair kicks off the day from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. At 5 p.m. the focus becomes food, music and bringing people together.
Currently, we have a 50/50 raffle that is taking place. The winner will be announced on stage in June at the Blues on Main 2022. Throughout the year we solicit sponsors, specifically for the Blues on Main, which the largest part of our budget is allocated.
“We have been successful over the years because of community businesses who have supported us financially and through in-kind services, along with our faithful volunteers,” she said. “Our volunteers decided to support the organization by donating themselves on a monthly basis. We have also benefited from the generous donations of our monthly donors.”
Outreach For Ellis County & Beyond
And although they are documented as helping those in Ellis and surrounding counties, Charlotte said Unity is committed to serving anyone who has a need.
“We have left paying utilities and rent to other community services, focusing more on services that will have more of an immediate, yet lasting impact,” she said. “We have attempted to serve wherever we see a need, such as sponsoring Angel Tree families, sock and blanket drives for nursing homes, serving breakfast for those families impacted by the pandemic and adopting seniors in the community to address their individual needs from yard work to purchasing in-home needs.”
For years during the Christmas holidays, Unity has partnered with the Dallas organization Soup Mobile. Working together to serve the homeless population, as well as providing Christmas gifts for families devastated during the holidays.
“There are no real borders on fulfilling a need,” she said. “If we are aware of a need and have been given the ability to meet, a zip code should not limit us.”
Lend A Helping Hand
And if you’d like to help, there’s a place for you, Charlotte said.
“Although we are always in need of individuals who would serve as board members, have expertise in marketing, fundraising, grant writing and event planning, there is a place for every person who is willing to commit to ‘being the change that they want to see,'” she said.
“UitCofE is a diverse group of men and women who understand that it takes all of us doing a little bit to change the world that we live in.”