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National History of United Way

Local United Way organizations were born from necessity. They were created by local community leaders who banded together to address the waste and frustration that came from many competing appeals for charitable funds and the numerous and incessant demands for volunteer time and effort.

The first semblance of a local United Way dates back to Denver, Colorado, in 1887 when religious leaders formed the Charity Organizations Society. The group planned and coordinated local services and conducted a single fundraising campaign for 22 agencies in November 1888, raising $21,700. The Community Chest, also a forerunner of today's organization, was first organized in Rochester, New York, in 1919 during World War I. By 1929, there were 353 Community Chests of record around the country. Similar organized approaches to fund raising sprang up using the names "Torch Drive," "Red Feather," and "United Appeal". Detroit became the first community to adopt the name "United Fund" in 1949.

Local History of United Way

The Community Chest of Lewis County was organized in November 1962 to fund and assist the Council of Nine Social Agencies. This early organization had a budget of $8,000.

In 1965, the Community Chest adopted a charter to change its name to United Way of Lewis County. At present, United Way of Lewis County is still serving the community, even though its look has changed with a new brand mark in 2008. Amidst the devastation of the flood in 2007, an extended campaign was still successful in meeting a fundraising goal of $600,000.