50-Years of Caring the United Way!

Photo Cap: United Way's featured speaker, Robert Egger.

50-Years of Caring the United Way!
by William Bulla

Fifty year of caring? Yes, it has been fifty years of collecting funds from caring citizens in the community. Fifty years that caring volunteers have reached out their hands to help those in need! Fifty years of funding programs supervised by caring member agencies! Yes, it has been fifty years of caring generated by your United Way of Washington County!
It began, in 1957, as the United Fund. Its concept was to incorporate many funding drives into one. Named the United Fund, the local businesses signed up for the local chapter charter.
The pledge they signed read: "We believe in the United way of planning and financing the voluntary Health, Welfare, Youth and Community Service organizations of our city and county. We pledge our cooperation in helping every person in our employ to have the opportunity to give to the United Fund of Washington County."
The posters used showed a photo of a mother with two children and the caption. "GIVE THE UNITED WAY!" This slogan had an impact on the people. They began to refer to the organization and campaign as "The United Way", so in 1973, the name was changed to United Way.
One editorial, in the 1960's, said the fund represented "the easy way, the American way, the United way for the community to heed its conscience and do the right thing by all its people."
Also, in the 1960's, for several years during the campaign month of October, Washington Street was re-signed as "Fair Share Avenue" and Potomac Street as "United Way." This was discontinued, in 1968, because motorists visiting the city had trouble finding their way around.
Prior to the United Fund, it should be noted that the local chapter of the King's Daughters held a "Community Fund Drive" project in 1921. It operated only a few years. Then, in 1941, a successor and namesake was founded largely through the efforts of the Hagerstown Junior Chamber of Commerce. It functioned as "Community Fund" until replaced by the United Fund of Washington County in 1957.
The first campaign of United Fund moved from a modest beginning of $260,376, to raise $1.8 million in 2006. Collectively, over these fifty years, United Way has been responsible for raising nearly $50 million to help meet the needs of those partner agencies working in the areas of health, welfare, youth and community services.
Now, as United Way of Washington County looks ahead to its next fifty years, it has expanded its partner agency base to 22, with others pending. The goal for 2007-2008, under the co-chairmanship of Tom Newcomer and John Barr, has been set at $1.9 million.
United Way activities, to celebrate this golden anniversary, will begin this week when the annual meeting is held. June 14, celebrated as Flag Day by our nation, will also feature United Way flags throughout the town square. Children from United Way's partner youth agencies will be serving lemonade in the town square from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm. The Mayor of Hagerstown and the President of the County Council will sign proclamations in a ceremony at the town square.
The annual meeting dinner and golden anniversary celebration will be held at the Four Point Sheraton Hotel on the evening of June 14. Featured speaker for the event will be Robert Egger. Mr. Egger is a native of Washington, D.C. where he founded the D.C. Central Kitchen in 1989, now a national model of charity and efficiency. He has just written Begging for Change (with Howard Yoon) which delivers this basic message: "Non-profits must stop chasing money and start focusing on the true work at hand." Egger served as interim director of National Capital United Way when it was recently reorganizing and restructuring. He has appeared on The Oprah Show as a featured guest.
"Everybody can give, everybody has a role. Believe in the impossible. We have the power to make this an amazing society . . .if we work together. Be a part of it. Make waves," Egger said. A courtesy copy of his book will be given to all in attendance.
The meeting will also feature the presentation of the annual Jesse L. Kagle, Jr award to an outstanding United Way volunteer.
"United Way of Washington County serves as a catalyst to bring together all the necessary components of our community to provide opportunities, address vital issues and improve lives for all citizens", said AnJie Doll, local United Way Board President.
United Way of Washington County relies upon the citizens, businesses, corporations, and organizations of Washington County for donations annually to help fund its partner agencies, serving more than 50,000 persons in Washington County.
United Way of Washington County's provision of resources to its partner agencies' human service programs show measurable results. Its partner agencies are able to access the necessary resources to help them develop stronger families, healthier citizens, enable our youth to grow to be contributing members of society, provide support to those living with disabling or disadvantaging conditions, and support self-sufficiency, independent living and/or provide basic food, shelter and clothing to citizens in need.
To learn more about the United Way of Washington County call 301-739-8200.