Brown County United Way launched its 2010 campaign Thursday with the goal of raising $325,000 to benefit its 15 member agencies.

The theme for this year’s campaign is “Live United.”

“A single effort cannot raise $325,000,” said Bill Thomas, United Way board member who introduced the 15 agencies that depend on the United Way for support. “But ‘united’ we can reach this goal.”

Thursday’s luncheon at the Mabee Center at Howard Payne University was brief, and kept within the hour, so that those working could return to work. Keynote speaker Lynn Humeniuk said she had been told to keep her remarks within 5 to 7 minutes, “which narrows the topics down somewhat.”

And before letting the clock start on her speaking time, Humeniuk laid down three ground rules to keep the event from digressing in ways events in the recent national news have. Humeniuk’s ground rules were that at no time during her speech should someone come up, grab the microphone and announce that Joe Tom Childs was a better speaker; no one should call out, “You liar,” while she was speaking; and thirdly, no one was to throw a shoe at her if they did not like something she was saying.

All of the rules were followed without incident.

On a serious note, Humeniuk said that the Brown County “community” roughly has a population of 38,000 and though nationally 16.3 percent of the population lives below poverty level, in Brown County, 18.9 percent of the people are considered to be living below poverty level.

“There are a lot of needs in this community,” Humeniuk said.

“We all need to be helping everybody. If you draw a picture of a heart, I think that’s what Brown County should look like.

“There is an outpouring of support, when one of our own needs help,” Humeniuk said, citing several incidents in just the last year – a little girl whose leg was amputated because of a disease, a couple who left to attend a graduation and their home exploded while they were away; and a young man who was paralyzed in a rollover.”

The 15 Brown County United Way agencies that will receive support from the 2010 campaign are American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs, Salvation Army Loaves and Fishes, Brown County 4-H Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boy Scouts of America, Mid-Texas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Girl Scouts - Heart of Texas Council, Brown County Association for Retarded Citizens, Latch Key Program, Small World Child Development Center, CASA, Family Services Center, The Ark Domestic Violence Shelter and Cancer Services Network.