The Morris County Collaborative is a non-profit organization dedicated to making Morris County a better place to live, work, learn, play, and pray.
We began with a small group of people who met in 2013 at the home of Dangerfield resident Margine Mims to begin building strategies to revitalize Morris County communities. Mrs. Mims has been an advocate for community well-being over the past 50 years and is passionate about youth development and education. Today, the collaborative has grown to 22 members who create opportunities for a better life in Daingerfield, Omaha, Naples, Lone Star and Cason.
We support health and wellness, mental health, health equity, economic development, personal empowerment, and training and development. We accomplish our goals primarily through education while focusing on those who've been historically marginalized and excluded. To sustain our mission, we've developed partnerships with a cross-sector of industries that support and promote resilience in our community.
Situated among beautiful lakes and rolling hills, Morris County has the 2nd highest high school graduation rate, ranking 95th in the nation. The folks who live in the area are like anyone in any football town across America. They live good lives, support their families and hope for the best, but we have an underlying issue with health.
In fact, Morris County ranks next to the lowest among Texas counties when it comes to healthcare. For the 244 counties in the state, Morris County comes in at 242 because of our lack of resources. Only two counties ranked lower.
Many factors have led to this ranking. To name a few, about one out of every four children under age 18 lives in poverty. Also, only one mental health provider is available for every 1,000 people, and there’s only one doctor for every 6,000 residents. Additionally, the suicide rate is five points higher than average for the State of Texas.
Morris County was once a thriving community before the local economy took a downturn. To a large degree, the downturn was a result of job losses from Lone Star Steel, which at one time employed over 7,000 people. Over a 30-year period, the people employed there dwindled to 700, and the local economy suffered as businesses closed, the local hospital ceased operating, healthcare professionals vacated, and residents moved elsewhere in search of opportunity.
Unemployment then led to a lack of medical insurance and the inability to afford a visit to a doctor. These factors all contributed to a downward spiral into poverty and poor health.
This is something that we have to change -- but change does not happen without work, risk, and sacrifice. Our goals are to increase our health rankings and overall well-being. Morris County Collaborative has begun the work of building a healthier community -- together.
We need the support of our community: leaders, businesses, organizations, schools and residents. According to our most recent survey undertaken to get to the root causes of our present conditions, the top needs of our community were jobs, recreation, and youth facilities; people want places to go, things to do.
We also need better and affordable housing, substance and opioid use prevention, substance abuse treatment and recovery services, criminal justice equality, public transportation, youth services and programs that advocate health and education like STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), gym and exercise facilities, and better access to medical treatment.