United Way of Youngstown flexes muscle as it turns 100


In trekking through the time tunnel 100 years, 1919 stands out as a milestone year for our nation and our community on a multitude of fronts.

The states officially ratified the 18th Amendment to the Constitution that ushered in a failed 14-year experiment in outlawing the demon rum and other adult alcoholic beverages.

Congress approved the 19th Amendment to grant women their long unjustly denied right to vote.

The Treaty of Versailles formally ended World War I, in which 40 million people, including 120,000 Americans, died.

Closer to home, the Great Steel Strike of 1919 crippled steelmaking operations across the country, including those in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, for months.

In February of that same year, 11 businessmen in Youngstown and its vicinity founded The Community Corporation, the parent company of today’s United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. Later that same year, the CC announced it had raised an impressive $328,234 in its first fundraising campaign to assist 37 vital social-service agencies in the community.

Ninety-nine years and campaigns later, UWYMV has raised an astounding $140 million to help to meet the critical health and human-service needs throughout Greater Youngstown.

HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS

Such success and growth merit our hearty and praiseworthy congratulations to UW leaders of today and through the ages. We also wish United Way well as it prepares to launch a year of special and exciting community events and as it flexes its muscle to carry itself over the threshold to its second hundred years.

Bob Hannon, president of the UWYMV, is rightly psyched.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this incredible milestone. Our United Way has a rich history and has truly made generations of impact since the early 20th century,” Hannon said in announcing the agency’s centennial plans.

Truer words could not have been spoken.

It is perfectly fitting then that the logo and slogan for this year’s golden anniversary at the agency is “100 Years United: Generations of Impact.”

For generations now, the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley has followed the guidelines established by United Way worldwide with a focus on results-oriented work in three key arenas: education, income and health.

Donors to the annual local campaigns can rest assured that 98 cents of every dollar collected helps to improve the livelihoods of more than 170,000 people in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

That pledge is borne out by a recent evaluation by Charity Navigator, an independent agency that rates nonprofits on results, accountability and transparency. The Youngstown-based UW agency received four stars, the highest possible positive rating.

“It’s important our donors trust that we’re using their donations wisely to accomplish our United Way’s mission to break down the barriers children and their families face every day,” said Hannon.

Judging by the goal-busting sum of $3.1 million raised in last year’s campaign, that trust is shared by thousands of contributors.

For decades now as well, the organization has succeeded in raising tens of millions of dollars to ensure that scores of critically needed education, health and social-service agencies in our region survive and thrive.

NEW MISSION HAS IMPACT

In addition to that traditional mission stretching back to 1919, in recent years, United Way has embarked in developing its own Impact programs, many of which focus on enhancing learning opportunities for young children. Among them are the organization’s much-acclaimed Success by 6 pre-school program and Success After 6 for elementary-school pupils.

In sum, our Youngstown-based United Way affiliate has much to celebrate – and celebrate it will.

Numerous events are planned at which the public, critical to the nonprofit’s century of success, is invited to attend. Among them is an anniversary lunch on Feb. 11, the annual meeting April 8, a special “Centennial Champions: A Black Tie Affair” at the Lake Club in Poland on May 10 and the 10th Annual Muransky Companies Bass Classic at Evans and Pine lakes on June 1.

Of course, the public can best show its appreciation for a century’s worth of good works simply by continuing to support and expanding its support to the UW’s annual fundraising campaigns through individual contributions or payroll- deduction programs. Consider your donation a gift toward a new century of smart investments in the human resources of the Mahoning Valley.

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