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History & Mission
The mission of United Way is to improve lives by
mobilizing the caring power of the community.
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 Fork, 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 Meridian, MS was Organized in November of 1940 to fund and assist the Council of Nine Social Agencies. This early organization had a budget of $24,669.12 (to be exact!).
On August 4, 1953, the Community Chest adopted a charter to change its name to the United Fund. Its fundraising goal then was $150,000, which was nearly met at $141,000.
Seven years passed before the next evolution of the United Fund. The State of Mississippi issued a non-profit Charter of Incorporation to the Greater Lauderdale Organized Welfare Fund (GLOW Fund). By this time, the fundraising goal was down to $129,009, and it was met and surpassed by $825.
It wasn't until August 22, 1974, that an amendment finally changed the name of GLOW Fund to United Way of Meridian, Inc, and the Helping Hand logo (right) was adopted. That year the budget was up to $285,000, while only $223,800 was actually raised.
At present, United Way of East Mississippi is still serving the community, even though its look has changed with a new brandmark in 2004. Amidst the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, an extended campaign was still successful in meeting a fundraising goal of $800,000.