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Celebrating 125 Years of United Way Movement

The United Way movement is 125 years old in 2012. Read more about how one of the most important social inventions in history has grown into a worldwide call to action for change.

In 1887 in Denver, Colo., a diverse group of community leaders – a woman, a priest, two ministers and a rabbi — came together to improve community conditions. Their idea was to create one unified effort to raise and distribute funds to local nonprofit charities, eliminating the need for multiple appeals to the public for help.

The campaign they created, which joined 10 local health and welfare agencies to a common goal, became one of the most important social inventions in history. The first organization was to serve as an agent to collect funds for local charities, as well as to coordinate relief services, counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies, and make emergency assistance grants in cases which could not be referred. That year, Denver raised $21,700 and sparked an entire movement.

Today, those actions have grown into , a worldwide call to action to advance the common good. There are more than 1,800 local, community-based United Ways in 41 countries and territories across the globe working with volunteers, businesses, and partner organizations.

Each United Way is governed by a local board of directors comprising individuals from that community. In addition, each United Way serves its community based on local needs. Where once United Way funded nonprofit agencies that “help people” or “do good things,” it is now focused on communitywide impact initiatives that prevent problems from happening in the first place.

Middlesex United Way was founded more than 75 years ago in 1935. Yet during this milestone anniversary for our movement, we acknowledge and celebrate the people and organizations – past, present and future – who continue to advance the common good and create opportunities for a better life for all throughout the world.

Locally, Middlesex United Way serves the fifteen towns of Middlesex County, from Middletown to Old Saybrook and every locale in between. We are providing the building blocks for a good quality of life – education, income, health and housing. Within those focus areas, we are working to prevent families from becoming homeless, reducing the rate of risky behaviors among youth, increasing children’s readiness to learn by school entry, and increasing the financial stability of individuals and families.

The United Way movement has come a long way and continues to evolve and grow to best serve the communities in which we live and work. This milestone is more than an opportunity to honor our past. It’s a time for us to thank you, our loyal friends and supporters, for Living United.

Everyone is cordially invited to join the movement. You can join hands with others across the globe to improve the education, income, health, and housing of our communities. You can give. You can advocate. You can volunteer. Visit www.middlesexunitedway.org to find out how.

And please “like” United Way on Facebook. Now through June 30, 2012 Young’s Printing will donate $1 to Middlesex United Way for every new “like” the organization receives. Go to www.facebook.com/middlesexunitedway.

Live United!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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