In 1887, a Denver woman, a priest, two ministers and a rabbi got together... It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but they didn't walk into a bar; what they did do was recognize the need to work together in new ways to make their community in Denver a better place.
These efforts became the nation's first united campaign, benefitting 10 area health and welfare agencies. They created an organization to collect the funds for local charities, to coordinate relief services, to counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies, and to make emergency assistance grants for cases that could not be referred. That year, Denver raised $21,700 for this greater good, and created a movement that would become United Way.
Calhoun County saw its first united appeals effort in the 1920’s when the local Kiwanis Club and Rotary Club combined their fundraising efforts to help children living in poverty. Their organized efforts established Calhoun County’s first Community Chest. As time went by and the fundraising efforts grew, community leaders decided that it was time to hire a staff person to oversee the funds. The United Way was established, and in 1954, the organization was incorporated to officially become United Way of Calhoun County, Inc.
In 1996, United Way of Calhoun County expanded its coverage area to include Cleburne and Randolph counties and changed its name to United Way of East Central Alabama, Inc. Today, United Way of East Central Alabama remains the largest fundraising effort in the area, with revenue of over $1 million each year. These efforts allow the organization to fund and support 28 Community Partners and 4 initiatives across Calhoun, Cleburne, and Randolph counties.