Our History

Photo credit: https://www.downtownplymouth.org/

Our History

In 1944, during World War II, the Plymouth Community Fund was established to serve the needs of the greater Plymouth community.

In time, we became the Plymouth Community United Way. 80 years later, we still work to address the basic needs of the residents of Plymouth, Canton, and Western Wayne County. Our partner agencies provide programs of support for the young and the elderly, and everyone in between. You will find us wherever needs are not being met.

Advancing the common good is less about helping one person at a time and more about changing systems to better serve us all. We are all connected and interdependent. We all win when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, and when people are healthy. By working together, we can do what no single organization or individual can do.

Helping people help each other as well as themselves is the glue that binds us together. We create a better life for everyone by reinforcing the building blocks of our strong community. We need your support to accomplish this, whether it be your time, talent, or a monetary donation.

In 1887, a Denver woman, priest, two ministers, and a rabbi recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems. Frances Wisebart Jacobs, The Rev. Myron W. Reed, Msgr. William J.O’Ryan, Dean H. Martyn Hart, and Rabbi William S. Friedman put their heads together to plan the first united campaign for ten health and welfare agencies. They created an organization 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 created a movement that would spread throughout the country to become the United Way. Over 133 years later, United Way is still focused on mobilizing the caring power of communities and making a difference in the lives of others.

1887: In Denver, religious leaders founded the Charity Organizations Society, the first “United Way” organization, which planned and coordinated local services and conducted a single fundraising campaign for 22 agencies.

1888: First United Way campaign in Denver raised $21,700.

1894: Charitable institutions became exempt from the first federal act that imposed a tax on all corporations organized for profit.

1913: The nation’s first modern Community Chest was born in Cleveland, where a program for allocating campaign funds was developed.

1918: Executives of 12 fund-raising federations met in Chicago and formed the American Association for Community Organizations (AACO), the predecessor to United Way of America.

1919: Rochester, New York used the name Community Chest, a name widely adopted by United Way organizations and used until the early 1950s. This year began a 10-year growth period in the number of Community Chests: 39 in 1919; 353 in 1929.

1948: More than 1,000 communities had established United Way organizations.

1971: United Way of America moved from New York City to Alexandria, Virginia.

1973: The NFL and the United Way establish their partnership to increase public awareness of social service issues facing the country. In addition to public service announcements in which volunteer NFL players, coaches, and owners appear, NFL players support their local United Ways through personal appearances, special programs, and sitting on United Way governing boards.

1974: United Ways raised $1,038,995,000 in America and Canada — the first time in history that an annual campaign of a single organization raised more than $1 billion. United Ways undertook with the National Football League (NFL) the largest public-service campaign in the nation’s history; a major part of that campaign was Great Moments, the televised United Way/NFL public service announcements. United Way International was formed to help nations around the world form United Way-type organizations.

1981: United Ways raised $1.68 billion, a 10.1 percent increase over the previous year. This figure represented the largest single-year percentage increase.

1982: United Way of America’s new National Service and Training Center opened in August, increasing the organization’s ability to assist the nation’s 2,200 United Ways.

1987: United Way recognized its centennial by saluting the America volunteer through many programs, including the dedication of a United Way postage stamp by the U.S. Postal Service.

1991: During the Persian Gulf War, a fully staffed Operations Center at United Way of America worked closely with other organizations to ensure that those in need received help.

1993: A national conference on Block Grants, hosted by United Way of America, provided valuable insight to nearly 250 attendees on the past and future performance of block grants, focusing on their implications for United Ways, their agencies, and the people they serve. The corporate community is increasingly demanding easier, more cost-efficient ways to process workplace campaigns. The Board sees these resolutions as the first steps in ensuring that United Way continues to be the premier workplace fundraiser because of its ability to change to better meet customers’ needs through the use of new technology.

1994: United Way of America was selected by Financial World magazine as the charity of choice in 1994 for its leadership in not-for-profit ethics and accountability. 1994 marked the first year of United Way of America’s Quality Awards, modeled after the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards. These awards recognize United Way organizations that demonstrated measurable progress in customer satisfaction, accountability, and productivity. United Way of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, PA, United Way of the Piedmont, Spartanburg, SC, and United Way of Southeastern New England, Providence, RI, were the first recipients of this prestigious award.

1995: The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) announced its selection of United Way of America and the United Way system as the primary provider of community support and volunteer services for the1996 Olympic Torch Relay. In its role, United Way was responsible for assisting ACOG with the selection of torchbearers, organizing community celebrations to greet the arrival of the Olympic Flame, and coordinating volunteers for those functions. United Way of America’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the adoption of Strategic Direction for United Way: Charting the Path for Building Better Communities.

1996: United Way of America developed two Internet products, United Way Online for local United Ways and a website for the general public. In October of 1996, United Way of America identified healthy children, healthy families, and healthy communities as focus areas under the strategic plan.

1997: United Way of America and the United Way system were asked by the organizers of the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future to join with them in leading the selection process for the 1,400 delegates from 140 cities across the nation. The focus of the Summit was to help youth through volunteer efforts.

1998: In 1997-98 campaigns, United Ways collectively raised $3.4 billion, boosting revenues by more than $150 million for a 4.7 percent increase over 1996-97 levels.

2000: In 2000, United Way of America joined forces with the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems to successfully petition the Federal Communications Commission to designate 211 as a health and human services information hotline. Initially, created by United Way of Atlanta, 211 is an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable telephone number. Today, trained call center operators in 96% of U.S. communities and across Canada field 21 million inquiries, connecting people with locally available resources.

2008: United Way’s evolution has positively impacted so many people. United Way has a program that lets you file your federal and state taxes online, for free, in English or Spanish. In 2008, United Way of America joined forces with H&R Block, the Walmart Foundation, Goodwill Industries International, and the National Disability Institute to launch a campaign designed to connect low-wage families and individuals with free tax preparation and filing assistance services. Currently, United Way’s MyFreeTaxes has helped 1.3 million taxpayers, and more, claim nearly $2 billion in refunds and save $260 million in filing fees.

1870-1920: The United Way model is born. Many cities across the U.S. experienced economic booms that drew people from thousands of miles away, often to already-overpopulated urban areas. It was an especially difficult time to be poor: there was no minimum age for child labor, no regulation of hours and wages, few safety standards for workers, and minimal “safety nets” for anyone who suffered an interruption in their ability to earn wages, such as natural disaster, injury or illness.

This growing poverty and economic disparity generated hundreds of local charities, each serving a particular area or group of people, many with competing or overlapping interests. People in a few U.S. cities borrowed a model common in England at the time, founding societies that referred people in need to the agencies best able to serve them.

1887: Denver, Colorado took another step towards the United Way model this year. When gold, silver, and other valuable metals were discovered in the mountains, the city’s population boomed from 5,000 to 100,000 people in seven years. The instant strain on infrastructure generated unmanageable human needs as well as the usual duplication and imperfect management. After an especially hard winter, when the silver mine had closed and people were left hungry and homeless, a new solution emerged.

A woman named Frances Jacobs convened four religious leaders from different traditions (nearly unheard of at the time): two protestant ministers, a Catholic priest, and a Rabbi, a Jewish scholar. They founded the “Charity Organizations Society,” which coordinated not just referrals to services, but also, for the first time, conducted a single fundraising campaign for 22 service agencies. The first United Way campaign in 1888 raised $21,700, an amount equivalent to more than $600,000 in today’s currency.

The model was refined in other cities, where organizations bringing order and integrity to human services proliferated. Many of the essential characteristics and practices of United Way took form:

  • The community needs assessments.
  • Information and referral to services.
  • Fostering information exchange and collaboration among service agencies (often using the new telephone technology).
  • Community-wide fundraising campaigns inviting all people to give, and not just the wealthy.
  • Organizational activities and money managed according to a strategy, a budget, and strict financial controls.
  • Community-wide planning councils, bringing agencies, donors, city leaders, and other groups to a single table to address problems together.
  • Allocation of funds to carefully-investigated agencies based on the community councils’ strategies.


1894: The U.S. federal government passed an act imposing a tax on all corporations organized for profit. From the beginning, charitable organizations were exempt from paying this tax. Organizations working on the “United Way” model were often called Community Chests. Visitors to the U.S. from other countries found value in it and brought it home in the first couple of decades of the new century, first to Canada, then to South Africa and Australia.

1943: The first workplace campaign with payroll deduction was launched in 1943. Payroll deduction (“Give as You Earn”) made giving convenient and financially manageable for average worker.

1963: The U.S. national Community Chest Organization published the first “Standards for National Voluntary Health, Welfare, and Recreation Agencies.” United Ways in the U.S., Canada, and other countries published and refined their own standards over the years. Most recently, Global Standards for United Way Organizations, Canadian Standards of Excellence, and U.S Standards for Excellence were published from 2005-2007 and are in active use.

1972: It was in this year that the new name and logo were adopted. Los Angeles, California became the first community to adopt the name “United Way.” The United Way name was then formally adopted nationwide in 1970. In 1972, the famous graphic designer Saul Bass created the United Way logo–the helping hand cradling mankind and surrounded by a rainbow to symbolize hope.

1972: The year of the Major Givers’ Society. The national Alexis de Tocqueville Society was also founded in 1972, to recognize individuals who have rendered outstanding service as volunteers in their own communities or nationally. Membership in the Society is granted to individuals who contribute at least $10,000 annually to the United Way. Eventually, recognition levels for single contributors exceeded $1 million, and fundraising with these leadership and major givers reached a significant portion of national United Way revenues. In 2005, United Way International launched a pilot program to expand the concepts and practices of major gift fundraising among international member organizations.

1974: The total fundraising of all United Ways passed one billion U.S. dollars in 1974; the first time in history that the annual campaign of a single organization raised more than one billion dollars. In 1985, they surpassed $2 billion, and that number currently hovers around $5 billion worldwide.

That same year, United Way International was created to fund and support United Way organizations around the world, outside the U.S., and Canadian movements. At that time, it operated as an independent department financially supported by the United Way of America national organization. In 1992, it was registered as a separate organization, with its own international governing board. To the 24 United Way countries founded between 1887 and 1992, United Way International added 20 more in the following 15 years, with 11 more to come in 2008.

1992: For twenty years (1970-1990), the United Way movement in the U.S. achieved remarkable successes. These included the partnership with the hugely popular National Football League, the recreation of a National Academy of Volunteerism (NAV) to elevate professional competencies in core United Way businesses supporting United Way around the country, and Emergency Food & Shelter partnership with the federal government to cope with a crisis of homelessness in the 1980s, and more.

2005:  United Way partnered with the Ad Council back in 2005 to create United Way Born Learning, the first early learning public service advertising campaign. Born Learning is no longer an ad campaign; currently, it has empowered more than 15 million parents and other caregivers with online tips, tools and other resources — as well as in-person parent education — to ensure kids start school equipped for success. United Way of America has now expanded Born Learning to thousands of children in Asia, Australia and Latin America.

1944 Clarence H. Elliott

1945 Francis J. Walsh

1946 Frances J. Walsh

1947 James Gallimore

1948 L.P. McGuire

1949 Frank Arlen

1950 Carvel M. Bentley

1951 Robert J. Stewart

1952 Louis Goddard

1953 Thomas C. Kent

1954 George Mayhew

1955 Marvin J. Criger

1956 Marvin J. Criger

1957 Samuel Hudson, Jr.

1958 Thomas M. Rossettie

1959 John Pint

1960 Hugh Griffin

1961 Carl Shear

1962 Robert Barbour

1963 Russell Isbister

1964 Frank Palmer

1965 Frank Palmer

1966 William Covington

1967 John Herb

1968 Earl Gibson

1969 Gerald Geer

1970 James Thomas

1971 Joseph West

1972 Fredrick Beitner

1973 Esther Hulsing

1974 Helen Richardson

1975 Willard Carlson

1976 Timothy Yoe

1977 Leonard Evans

1978 Fr. Ken MacKinnon

1979 Gene Kornegay

1980 Clarence DuCharme

1981 Jim Boyce

1982 Jim McCarthy

1983 Kenneth D. Currie

1984 Bill Robinson

1985 Dan LeBlond

1986 Harvey Ziel

1987 Fred Hill

1988 Mickey Edell-Cotner

1989 James Garber

1990 Dennis Siegner

1991 H. Kristene Rautio

1992 Joan Morrison

1993 Jon Huneke

1994 Rex Tubbs

1995 Sid Disbrow

1996 Al Steavens

1997 Esther Hulsing

1998 Esther Hulsing

1999 Thomas Salapatek

2000 Thomas Salapatek

2001 Charles Harvey

2002 Jerry Trumpka

2003 Howard Behr

2004 Howard Behr

2005 Harry Crespy

2006 Gregory Foster

2007 Gregory Foster

2008 Steve Davis

2009 Arthur Butler

2010 Arthur Butler

2011 Paul Hood

2012 Paul Hood

2013 Louis Whitlock

2014 Louis Whitlock

2015 Paul Fessler

2016 Paul Fessler

2017 Curt Bastianelli

2018 Curt Bastianelli

2019 Curt Bastianelli

1945 Frances J. Walsh

1946 Frances J. Walsh

1947 James Gallimore

1948 Patrick McGuire

1949 Paul Johnson

1950 Robert Stewart

1951 Norman Marquis

1952 Lewis Goddard

1953 Harry Roberts

1954 George Witkowski

1955 Mrs. L.B. Rice & George Witkowski

1956 Mrs. Edwin Rice & Sheldon Baker

1957 Richard Daniel & Mrs. L.B. Rice

1958 Carl Shear

1959 Robert Barbour

1960 Russell R. Isbister

1961 Frances S. Bauer

1962 Elmer Hedlund

1963 Frank J. Palmer

1964 Charles H. Bruce

1965 John Kamego

1966 Edward W. Schening

1967 James P. Thomas

1968 Harold E. Fischer

1969 Harold F. Head

1970 Fred Sincock & Terry West

1971 Ronald Coosaia

1972 W.E. “Bill” Carlson

1973 Leonard D. Evans

1974 Donald Fleming

1975 Gil Forthofer

1976 Gene Kornegay

1977 Dan LeBlond

1978 Jim Boyce

1979 John Czubaj

1980 Gerald Triplett

1981 Roger Haslick

1982 Don Skinner

1983 Larry Wasik

1984 James Garber

1985 H. Kristene Rautio

1986 Duke Morrow

1987 Marcia Buhl

1988 Minnie Johnson

1989 Dick Egli

1990 Chris Boyle

1991 James Connelly

1992 Al Steavens

1993 Don Keller

1994 Doug Wood

1995 Jim Malinowski

1996 Jerry Trumpka

1997 Denise King

1998 Linda Langmesser

1999 Greg Foster

2000 Harry Crespy

2001 Harry Crespy

2002 Roger Ballard

2003 Rick DeBruyne

2004 Rick DeBruyne

2005 Rick DeBruyne

2006 Tom Salapatek

2007 Chuck Gaidica

2008 Bill Lawton

2009 Greg Meyer

2010 Mark Everson

2011 Jeffrey Bell

2012 Paul Hood

2013 Tony Bruscato

2014 Tony Bruscato

2015 Jim Haling

2016 Ken Johnston

2017 Ken Johnston

2018 Ken Johnston

2019 Barb Sobotta