The United Way Worldwide was founded in Denver, CO in 1887 as “The Community Chest”. The United Way of Leavenworth County was founded in 1956.
United Way organizations began as a response to business owners’ desire to support all social service (non-profits) in their community by allowing their employees to donate to one campaign annually. This type of campaign is now known today as the “United Way Workplace Campaign”. The workplace campaign also allows business owners and corporate leaders to support the campaign by matching their employees’ donations or giving a corporate gift. The United Way also receives many donations from individuals and through other fundraisers throughout our county.
The primary objective of United Way is to create a healthier community by supporting programs and services that positively impact priority needs and urgent issues. With more and more disasters occurring in our communities (such as tornadoes), we are also looking at what we can do to “rebuild” our communities. When you donate to United Way of Leavenworth County, the money stays in Leavenworth County, to support non-profit organizations and projects.
Over the past few years, United Way of Leavenworth County has conducted and refined our community assessment to better focus our fundraising dollars. Recently the United Way board voted on a priority of effort and that was behavioral health and addiction intervention. Sadly, our society has broken down to the point where behavioral health and addiction intervention is becoming a crisis. We see it on the streets, in our schools, and the homeless shelter, in the food shelters, in the workplace and just about everywhere we look. A number of agencies in our county already deal with the effects of this crisis to include the Guidance Center, the interfaith Community Shelter, Alliance Against Family Violence, CASA, not to mention first responders in our county. The fact is, we simply do not have enough resources dedicated to deal with the increasing incidence of mental health and addiction in our community. The United Way will advocate for and allocate a priority of our funds towards tackling this crisis in our community.
Advocating for and helping to fund more resources for behavioral health and addiction intervention will have a positive effect on our community. However, we believe this is still not the root cause of the dramatic rise in behavioral health and addiction in our country, and we also need to attack those root causes.
United Way of Leavenworth County will work with our partner agencies and advocate for greater efficiency in charitable organization efforts, less redundancy, increasing complementary efforts and information sharing, and possibly having key activities needed by all agencies at the United Way.
The first step in this process is to form a focus group with our partner agencies, all charitable agencies in the community and community leaders from throughout the county. We propose to have serious discussions on how United Way and our community can best work towards the objectives stated above.