The United Way system spread throughout the country as communities formed local and most importantly—independent, volunteer-driven United Way organiztion. Every United Way is independent and controlled by a local volunteer board of directors.
In 1887, a 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 and Rabbi William S. Friedman put their heads together to plan the first united campaign for ten health and welfare agencies. As a results, they founded the Charity Organizations Society, the first "United Way" organization, which planned and coordinated local services and conducted a single fund-raising campaign.
United Way of North Central Massachusetts
For organizations to remain relevant, in a rapidly changing world, they must continue to innovate. At United Way of North Central Massachusetts we embrace innovation. We are always looking for smarter and more efficient way to create opportunities for a better life for all in our community.
The community creates Fitchburg United Fund and Leominster United Fund.
United Way of North Central Massachusetts, Inc., which is an independent, non-profit corporation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that is governed by local volunteers, was created in 1979 through the merger of the Fitchburg and Leominster United Funds.
In 1998, we were approached by the volunteers of the United Way of Greater Gardner investigating the benefits of a merger. After a careful and thorough study, both organizations concluded that a merger was in the best interest of both communities; and in June of 1998, the merger was finalized.
We now serve a 19-town region. Approximately one third of the population is touched by a United Way supported service in our community.
To keep our administrative expenses as low as possible, we partnered with the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts, sharing office space and key personnel. This arrangement, the only one in the United States, helps us put more money into important programs.
We are the first United Way in the country to bring Youth Venture program to our community. It is empowering young people to make a difference. Because of its success, the program has now spread to other United Ways throughout the country.
Recognizing that a vacuum existed for concerned individuals to find volunteer opportunities in our community, we created United Way Community Builders. Since this initiative was launched in 2004, thousands of people find rewarding volunteer opportunities.
United Way of North Central Massachusetts announced the creation of its Supplemental Basic Needs Fund, which was in response to the 2008 ice storm and the downturn in the economy.
Since its inception, it has provided food and utility assistance to thousands of area residents.
United Way of North Central Massachusetts brings the FamilyWize free prescription discount card to the community. It is helping reduce the cost of prescriptions for people who live and work in North Central Massachusetts.
With the goal of increasing kindergarten readiness through expanding the number of books being read to small children, United Way of North Central Massachusetts and its partners have launched Reading First, a literacy coalition, which will provide free books to Fitchburg and Leominster children. Families from the Twin Cities with children from birth to age 5, can sign up to have one book per month mailed to their home their child, regardless of household income.
The Athol Area United Way merges with United Way of North Central Massachusetts.
United Way creates four "Bold Plays," to bring focus to the work it is doing in the area of education, health and financial stability: United Way Combat Hunger, United Way Early Childhood Literacy, United Way Supplemental Basic Needs Fund and United Way Youth Venture.