United Way of the Titusville Region Celebrates 75th Diamond Jubilee on
April 13, 2020
United Way Movement
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 Denver a better place.
Frances Wisebart Jacobs, the Rev. Myron W. Reed, Msgr. William J.O’Ryan, Dean H. Martyn Hart and Rabbi William S. Friedman put together an idea that 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.
In 1913, the nation's first Community Chest was born in Cleveland, Ohio. There, a program for allocating funds was developed. The name Community Chest was widely used for United Way organizations until the 1950s
Today there are 1,800 United Way’s worldwide. United Way if the largest philanthropic organization with 3.3 billion in donations worldwide.
History of United Way of the Titusville Region
On Friday, April 13, 1945 a meeting was held at 101 Commercial Bank Building in Titusville, Pennsylvania to organize a Community Chest for the Titusville Community. At this meeting community leaders presided over and helped identify what the Community Chest of Titusville would accomplish. Twenty-one leaders of the Titusville community were nominated and elected to three, two, or one year terms of service. At this meeting the constitution and by-laws were read and adopted. The campaign goal for that first year was $45,600 and funded agencies for 18 months.
Charles J. Ward presided at the organization meeting of the Community Chest of Titusville, calling the meeting to order and made a few brief remarks about what the Community Chest of Titusville will accomplish.
He introduced Mr. Roy Johnson, the representative of the American City Bureau, who, the chairman said, would direct us in the organizing of our Community Chest. Mr. Johnson then explained briefly the work and cooperation necessary for the success of such a campaign. (excerpt from the original organizational minutes of the Community Chest of Titusville)
Original Board of Directors:
Mrs. A. E. Jennings, John Fehrenbach, G.O. Gondree, R.J. Hopkins, L.E. Levy, W.A. Lowrie, E. J. McDonald, Mrs. Pauline Prather, W. A. Bloom, J. M. Bloss, W. J. Fleming, J.M. Pennell, W. H. Scheide, C. B. Stegner, Mrs. C.T, Evans, Mrs, Leon J. McNierney. R.E. Burch, F. H. Sanford, Richard C. Trumble, C. J. Ward
In 1946, compelled by such statements as "Man's brotherhood to man," and "Those of us with a conscience." members of the Titusville community were asked to raise $38,500 to support local agencies in providing services to those in need. (This Key, Can Open a New Way of Life'. 1946) The ads also identified making contributions to the Community Chest campaign as the duty, an American obligation to all who cherish their birthright. (This Key Can Open a New Way of Life, 1946) The Titusville Community Chest Campaign goal decreased from the previous year's campaign because of the change from an 18-month funding cycle to a 12-month funding cycle. Agencies that benefitted from these funds included Associated Charities, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of America, Salvation Army, School Health Fund. Sisters of Mercy, Titusville Hospital, Titusville Playgrounds, USO, YMCA and YWCA.
The Community Chest continued to grow and support organizations with volunteers until 1970 when Martha Volkstadt was hired as the organization’s executive director. Titusville Area Community Chest did make a major change in 1975 and was renamed the Titusville Area United Way. By affiliating with the nationally known United Way organization the former Community Chest would have the advantage of the national advertising campaign and publicity at that time enjoyed by 2,300 United Ways located other towns and cities. A United Way Organization is a community focused, volunteer-led, non-profit corporation that seeks out and addresses the root causes of key issues and is a custodian of resources and is responsible for short-term and long-term goals. United Ways address multiple community issues rather than focusing on one specific area of interest. They focus on what is most important in each community to improve the overall quality of life for its residents. While part of a larger global network, individual United Ways, are run by local community members allowing for raising funds locally, deciding which agencies receive funding locally, and achieving results locally. Each United Way Member organization differs but all share the same core values, similar characteristics, and common roles that are defined by the Global Membership Requirements.
From 1970 until her retirement in Mrs. Volkstadt continued to grow the Titusville Area United Way. Prior Executive Director, Martha Volkstadt passed away in December 1997 near the conclusion of the 1998 campaign. Mrs. Volkstadt was honored with a memorial stone that included the United Way logo. Upon the death of Mr. Volkstadt, the Martha Volkstadt Memorable Scholarship was established with funds left to the Titusville Area United Way.
Terri Ann Wig was hired as Director in 1997 to fill the shoes of Martha Volkstadt and interim director, Christine Wolski. The 1998 Campaign was Wig’s first solo campaign.
From 1997 until today, Terri Ann Wig, Chief Professional Officer, has led the United Way through 23 successful campaigns while moving the United Way of the Titusville Region to a community impact leader. Under Wig’s tenure, the United Way has moved from agency funding to needs-based program funding with established outcomes and measurements. These programs are centered on the building blocks of a good life, Education, Health and Financial Stability.
United Way of the Titusville Region is no longer a fundraising and grant making organization. While the organization still raises funds during the annual campaign to support local programming, United Way of the Titusville Region has worked with local business, government, non-profits and schools to identify needs in our community and find solutions for our residents.
Since 1998, United Way has implemented the following programs in our community Back to Football youth fitness program as part of the NFL Play 60 program; development of the Titusville Regional Literacy Council; ensuring mental health and drug and alcohol services in the community, providing social work services for the Titusville Area School District elementary students; Born Learning Trail on the YWCA Property and most recently worked with Crawford Community Health Services to provide medical transportation to non-Medicaid residents.
Under Wig’s leadership the United Way began the Center for Financial Independence to help hard working families to overcome financial crisis. CFI provides case management services to help meet immediate needs in coordination with partner organizations, provides budgeting, Career Link job search, provides free income tax prep as an IRS VITA Site, and helps clients with completion of property tax and rent rebates. The center serves approximately 700 families each year
The THS Student United Way was established in 2014 with a membership of 40-50 high school students participating in various community and volunteer programs. The most notable projects include Stuff the Bus school supply donation collection, reading days and book distributions, High School Heroes Kindergarten character education program and Sole Patrol service trips to Ecuador.
In 2017 United Way of the Titusville Region took on the responsibility of being the lead agency for Crawford County in the implementation of the 2-1-1 system. 2-1-1 is a National call service, similar to 9-1-1 that provides information and referral for those seeking human services.
United Way of the Titusville Region led the human services community through numerous difficult times including September 11th, hurricain Katrina, the housing crisis and economic downturn in 2008 and our downtown fire disasters of recent years and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
United Way of the Titusville Region has supported programs provided by Associated Charities, Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, YMCA and YWCA since 1945. Additional organizations currently receiving support include Family Services and Children’s Aid Society, Hospice of Crawford County, Titusville Senior Center, Community Health Services, Youth Connections, Center for Financial Independence, and Titusville Regional Literacy Council.
United Way of the Titusville Region will continue to be the driving force in improving the lives of the people in the region through actions that address and reduce human service needs.