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. In 1965, the name changed to United Way of Lewis County (UWLC). At present, UWLC continues to enrich Lewis County through the awarding of Community Investment grants to support health and social services and active engagement in issues that impact needs of our residents.
UWLC has provided unprecedented assistance to Lewis County when crisis has faced our local community; devastating floods, COVID-19 relief efforts, mobilizing emergency management volunteers and critical fundraising efforts. Life in Lewis County changed forever on December 3, 2007 when flooding created a natural disaster of staggering proportions. United Way immediately stepped forward to set up supply and distribution centers. The organization also rallied funders to raise more than $1 million in three months.
Over the past few years, UWLC had undergone a paradigm change and moved from a fundraising/grant-focused organization to an issue-focused organization. We have strategically identified areas of need for funding that directly align with our stated goal. We know that poverty is a huge issue and is a much bigger issue than any single organization can tackle. Our current purpose is to lift families out of poverty in Lewis County with a bold goal of lifting 30% of families out of poverty by 2030.