Speaking at the Brown County United Way’s Campaign Recognition Luncheon Tuesday, a woman named Tea Taylor described how the United Way has impacted her.

Taylor said she was sitting at her Park Homes apartment — a Brownwood Housing Authority facility — grieving the loss of a friend, when she decided to walk across the street to check out some activity.

That activity was the Brownwood Area Community Garden — one of three new agencies being supported this year by the United Way. The addition of the three agencies brings the total of United Way-supported agencies to 18.

The United Way recognized donors at the Brownwood Country Club luncheon who pushed the agency to reach — and slightly exceed — its 2019 campaign goal of $250,000.

Taylor said she has a degenerative spine disorder and lives among elderly and disabled residents. “As much as I wanted to just sit there and be crying and being sad about losing my dear friend, (watching the garden activity) made me get up and go across the street and see what was happening,” Taylor said.

“And when I did, three ladies stopped, they took their time to talk to me, to show me things I had never seen. They prayed with me, they cried with me, they laughed with me.”

Taylor said she planted purple flowers in the garden in honor of the friend she lost. The purple flowers turned into produce including cucumbers, tomatoes, dell peppers and onions.

“And then I took the produce that I generated from my (garden) bed, along with what (others) grew, wrapped it up, took it across the street and gave it all away,” Taylor said.

She was referring to her elderly and disabled neighbors who, she said, could not get to the Community Garden.

Taylor said she is now on the Community Garden’s board of directors and serves as its secretary. “I’m living proof of what the United Way can do to just one individual, so just imagine the impact it has all over,” Taylor said.

Karen Lynch, executive director of the Brown County United Way, said the other two new agencies supported by the United Way are AccelHealth and the Boy Scouts of America.

AccelHealth marketing director Jill Evans spoke on behalf of that agency. A Boy Scouts representative who was to speak on behalf of the Boy Scouts had to cancel after being injured in a fall, Lynch said.

Lynch introduced the four top donors in the 2019 campaign — Kohler, 3M, United Way and Atmos  Energy. The four companies generated a total of more than $155,000, Lynch said.

Additionally, the United Way supports the American Red Cross, The Ark Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Shelter, the Association for Retarded Citizens, Boys and Girls Clubs, Brown County 4-H Clubs, Brown County Home Solutions, Brownwood Community Resource Council, Brownwood Public Library, Cancer Services Network, CASA, Community Connections of Central Texas, Early Childhood Intervention, Girl Scouts of Central Texas, the Pearl Griffin Memorial Latch Key Program and the Salvation Army.