For 100 years, the United Way of Greater Lima has been serving our community. The first United Way started in Denver, Colorado, in 1887 when a priest, a rabbi, two ministers and a woman came together to collectively address issues facing the community and to more efficiently raise funds. The concept took root and United Ways began forming in communities across the country. Over the years, United Way became known as a fundraising organization. In 2002, the new President of United Way of America set the direction for the United Way system: getting back to our original mission of community impact. Local United Ways are uniquely positioned to bring people together to address issues in their local communities. Fundraising is an important part of what we do but not our mission.
Our mission is “To improve lives by uniting the caring power of our community.” United Way continues to do what we are known for by conducting an annual campaign to support programs in partner agencies that focus on education, health and financial stability. Volunteers review agencies’ requests for funding each year to determine how the programs align with United Way’s goals and look at the outcomes and collaborative efforts with other organizations. The Community Impact Committee volunteers then determine how to invest the available funds and submit their recommendations to the United Way Board for final approval.
To impact community issues and find real solutions, United Way must do more than just invest dollars in agency programs. We must become true partners with organizations in solving issues our community faces. No single agency can address an issue alone. United Way of Greater Lima is bringing people together to collectively determine the future we want for our community.
Organizations convened by United Way are meeting and together we have created visions for our community. Our vision for the children of Allen County is to provide resources, role models and supports necessary for our children to achieve their full potential. Our vision for our families is to move them from survival to financial stability and give them hope for a better future with a sense of belonging, equality and opportunity.
As a result of coming together, we as organizations see the need to create a more coordinated service delivery system that seeks to go beyond just meeting people’s basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. By finding out why people need the help in the first place, we can address the root causes and make improvements that support the community’s needs. United Way believes in teaching people to fish, not just giving them a fish.
In our next 100 years, United Way envisions a community where organizations are working toward a common vision for our children to reach their full potential and where families move beyond survival to stability because UNITED, we win.