125 years, and counting. While this may sound like the beginning of a bad joke, it’s not. In 1887, a Denver woman, a priest, two ministers and a rabbi recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems. Frances Wisebart Jacobs, the Rev. Myron W. Reed, Msgr. William J.O’Ryan, Dean H. Martyn Hart and Rabbi William S. Friedman put their heads together to plan the first united campaign for ten health and welfare agencies. They created an organization to serve as an agent to collect funds for local charities, as well as to coordinate relief services, counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies, and make emergency assistance grants in cases which could not be referred. That year, Denver raised $21,700 and created a movement that would spread throughout the country to become the United Way. More than 125 years later, United Way is still focused on mobilizing the caring power of communities and making a difference in people’s lives.
With over 1800 local United Ways across America, South America, Europe and Asia, in over 41 countries and provinces, United Way has built a worldwide network with breadth and depth, but mostly with fortitude. With this significant growth, some United Way chapters are younger than others. United Way of Southern Nevada was started in 1957 and is now over 50 years old with a staff of roughly 50 full time employees.
In the past three years, UWSN has shifted, like United Way Worldwide, to the Community Impact Model, which optimizes dollars and puts them to work in focused impact areas in programs that promise results and collective impact. Working with our accredited agencies, and a deeply committed group of volunteers, community leaders and donors, UWSN is tackling Southern Nevada’s challenges with a great deal of optimism, rooted in a long standing history and knowledge of this community and its’ unique challenges and opportunities.