united way

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories that explain to Wayne County residents what programs funded by United Way do to help the community.

United Way originally began in Wayne County about 1925 as a way for people to give to several charitable organizations that were meeting the needs of local people. Under the United Way umbrella, organizations received a portion of the total raised, which meant each group didn’t have to hold its own fundraiser.

Almost 100 years later and with a few changes here and there, United Way continues raising funds for local charity groups.

“Initially, United Way served as the vehicle by which individuals could give and then those organizations that were in need of resources could be vetted,” said Dustin R. Bannistaer, United Way strategic initiative director.

“The community then would speak through United Way and be able to allocate those resources.”

At first, United Way was a fund raiser for the entire nonprofit community.

But through the years, that changed.

“United Way’s purpose has begun to shift toward collaborative efforts, seeing that there are not only needs met in the community, but that resources are not doubled up on and that we are coordinating and serving individuals from point A to point Z,” Bannister said.

“We would like to think of ourselves as better at coordinating right now than anything else. We stand in between an organization that actively serves and an individual who wants to give in a way that’s the most efficient usage of their dollar.”

Today, United Way no longer funds charities, but charitable programs instead.

Bannister said United Way focuses on programs that align with its strategic goal.

“Our strategy has been to look at the 0 to 10 at-risk population,” he said.

“We found that children are the most vulnerable and the easier that we’re able to help with supportive services, the better the outcome in the long run.”

United Way currently funds about 20 local programs.

In the past four years, the campaign has averaged between $1 and $1.2, Bannister said.

This year’s goal is just over $1, whick will improve around 20,000 lives in a positive way in Wayne County.

The campaign is currently underway and will end sometime in January.

To make a donation, you can stop by the United Way office, give through your company campaign, go online at unitedwayne.org or call the office at 919-735-3591.

“Together, we can make a stronger community,” Bannister said.

Here are three of the the programs that United Way funds.