This op-ed originally appeared in the York Daily Record/Sunday News on August 8, 2021.
When the York Welfare Federation began serving the York County community in 1921, the predecessor to what is now United Way of York County looked a little different than the organization we know today.
The York Welfare Federation set out on a weeklong door-to-door solicitation campaign during December, aiming to raise $155,000 in support of 10 participating agencies. By 1922, the campaign had shifted to solicit manufacturing firms and businesses directly, and continued to adapt over the years to become what United Way of York County is known for: The largest annual fundraising campaign in York County, raising critical resources for our community, our neighbors, and our families.
Member agencies, or Partner Agencies, as they are now known, were added and removed over the years, but five of these agencies who began with United Way in 1921 are still Partner Agencies today: Boy Scouts, Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the YMCA, and YWCA.
From the beginning, the York Welfare Federation formed to provide “better service to the community with better use of agency manpower,” according to a 1971 newspaper article. By 1923, the article continues, “most of the participating agencies indicated that … [the federation] had freed them almost completely from the time-consuming task of raising funds, and permitted them to spend their time on actual service.”
As representatives of the five Partner Agencies who still partner with United Way of York County to meet the education, health, and economic mobility needs of our community, we can affirm that the past century of partnership has provided benefits far beyond the initial consolidated fundraising efforts.
Together, the collective actions of United Way and its partners work hard to maximize benefits to the community and strengthen the delivery system for health and human services.
- We rely on shared expertise in many areas of our community’s needs to work collaboratively and identify long-term, impactful solutions to health and human care challenges in York County.
- We work together to increase the public’s understanding of the role of our organizations and other United Way partners in improving the quality of life for York County residents, and celebrate lives changed.
- We participate in a comprehensive Allocations process led by community volunteers that ensures donors’ investments are stewarded well and that our programs are continually reviewed for financial strength and operational stability.
By listening and learning, we invest together in solutions that empower all York County residents to achieve their goals. This long-term work is critical to ensure that York County remains strong and our families, friends, and neighbors have the resources they need to thrive.
We see the impact of the community’s support — your support — every day: in the eyes of a woman receiving counseling and resources after leaving her abuser, in the laughter of a child playing and growing in a high-quality early learning environment, in a Scout who is building leadership skills and friendships for life, in the grateful heart of a family facing the aftermath of a house fire and not having to worry where they’ll sleep that night.
Community results are realized through collaboration, commitment and dedication. We hope you will join us in recognizing and celebrating the importance of these community partnerships, and the powerful outcomes we can achieve when we work together.
Laura Burke, Executive Director
American Red Cross, Central Pennsylvania Chapter
Ronald Gardner, Jr., Scout Executive & CEO
Boy Scouts of America – New Birth of Freedom Council
Thomas S. Babbitt, Major, Area Coordinator
The Salvation Army, York Citadel
Larry Richardson, President/CEO
YMCA of York and York County
Jean Treuthart, CEO