History of United Way

In 1887, a woman, Denver priest, two ministers and a rabbi recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems. The Rev. Myron W. Reed, Msgr. William J.O’Ryan, Dean H. Martyn Hart, Rabbi William S. Friedmana, and Frances Wisebart Jacobs 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. Since then, whether it has been known as the “Community Chest,” “Red Feather Drive,” “United Fund,” and since 1964, “United Way,” groups of committed individuals have come together for more than a century to LIVE UNITED and advance the common good by providing the building blocks for a good quality of life for all. Over 134 years later, United Way is still focused on mobilizing the caring power of communities and making a difference in people’s lives.

United Way of Lapeer County was established in 2000 after breaking off from United Way of Genesee County. 

Watch the video below to learn more about United Way's beginnings and mission. 

                                                                                          See the faces behind United Way, started in 1887!