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United Way of West Tennessee
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Our History

Fall 1941 - Community Chest, the predecessor to the United Way, was formed in Jackson, Tennessee. The first community campaign was conducted in Jackson. John Wisdom, was the first board chair.

December 7, 1941 - The Jackson Sun printed the first article on the campaign. "Community Chest workers must raise $12,000 beofre the final dinner meeting Tuesday night at the New Southern Hotel if they are to call it a Victory Meeting."

December 10, 1941 - A Jackson Sun article reported that the Community Chest raised $25,666 in their eight-day drive, exceeding the $25,425 goal. Local organizations to receive funding were the YMCA, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts and Local Charity Relief Organization.

1958 - Community Chest changed its name to United Way Fund. The campaign, led by its chairman, Simpson Russell Sr., raised $113,199.

1960-1970 - United Way campaigns were led by Jackson community leaders such as Ben Langford (1960), Walter Barnes (1962), Les Reinke (1967) and Walt Madden (1969). During that time, the annual campaigns increased from $139,000 to $212,000.

1971 - United Way Fund changed its name to United Way. Joe Exum chaired the campaign raising over $200,000. Mr Exum later returned to chair the 1999 campaign.

1972-1982 - United Way increased its annual campaigns to over $500,000 per year.

1975 - Dick Carruth replaced Hunter Taylor as president of the United Way of West Tennessee

1983 - The first campaign outside of Jackson was added in Gibson County. The campaigns, raising $680,550 in Madison County and $175,000 in Gibson County, was chaired by Bobby Carter.

1983 - Ron Pennel was named president of the United Way of West Tennessee.

1984 - Roger Murray chaired the local campaign that nearly doubled the previous year total. United Way of West Tennessee reached the $1 million level for the first time.

1985 - McNairy County campaign was added, raising $68,500 in the first year.

1986 - The United Way of West Tennessee added Weakley and Henderson Counties - creating a five-county service area. In the first year, $41,530 was raised in Weakley County, and $39,249 was raised in Henderson County.

1987 - Hardeman County was added to the service area, raising $81,144 in its first year.

1988 - Haywood County was added to the service area, nearly $118,000 was raised in its first year.

1990 - Carroll County was added to the service area, raising $67,592 in its first year.

1992 - Dyer and Crockett Counties were added to the service area. This brought the United Way of West Tennessee's service area to ten counties. The total raised that year was over $2.7 million.

1992 - Kate Campbell Robertson estate donated nearly $912,000 to the United Way to create an endowment fund to help underprivileged children in Jackson.

1996 - Barry Mathews was named president and CEO of the United Way of West Tennessee.

1997 - The United Way, along with a research team from Union University, conducted a needs assessment for Madison County that was called Reality Check '97. The assessment allowed the United Way to identify the most pressing needs in the community as well asw solutions to address those problems.

1998 - United Way of West Tennessee, along with over 100 agencies, responded to a tornado by organizing an eleven-agency partnership named the Disaster Recovery Services. Together, the agencies were able to distribute more than $200,000 to effected families.

1998 - A Special Needs Fund in Madison County was used to establish an after-school program for elementary and middle school children in Jackson's mid-town area.

1999 - The United Way of West Tennessee raised a record $3.66 million

2001 - The United Way recieved a grant from Bank of America in the amount of $33,600 to start a local program, Success by 6, which focused on promoting early childhood education

2003 - Tornado hit West Tennessee and damaged the United Way's building at 106 S. Church Street, Jackson. The United Way office moved to 1341 N. Highland Avenue, Jackson.

2006 - The United Way of West Tennessee partnered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to provide Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites available to low-income families.

2006-2008 - Over a three-year span the United Way, qualified for national grants, that helped contribute more than $190,000 to assist educational programs for children in Pre-Kindergarten classes throughout West Tennessee.

2007 - United Way of West Tennessee launched 2-1-1, a health and human service referral line, also supported by the Alliance for Information and Referral System (AIRS).

2008 - Alan H Turner II was named the president and CEO of the United Way of West Tennessee.

2008 - The United Way began its new campaign "LIVE UNITED". It encourages the citizens of West Tennessee to "Give. Advocate. Volunteer."

2008 - The United Way of West Tennessee kicks off its first 'Days of Action', which resulted in successful volunteer projects and programs across all ten counties served.

2008 - The United Way of West Tennessee teamed up with Familywize to help the uninsured and those without prescription coverage obtain lower cost prescription medications. The program offers an average savings of 20% for individuals and families with no prescription coverage.

2008 - The 2-1-1 system in West Tennessee responded to more than 5,000 calls in the 2008 calandar year.

2009 - Established the United Way of West Tennessee's Tocqueville Society, for individuals who donate $10,000 or more. The four founding members: James W. Ayers, Nancy Smith, Mr & Mrs Duane Campbell and one anonymous donor.

2009 - Added four counties: Chester, Decatur, Henry and Lake Counties to the United Way service area. This brought the total service area to 14 counties.

2009 - Added Corporate Representatives to the West Tennessee Board of Directors (from top three contributing companies) and created a rotation plan for board members.

2009 - Changed "Allocation" committees to "Community Impact" committees to highlight the change in focus to program funding, not agency funding. Programs funded in the areas of education, income and health.

2009 - Worked with Jackson Energy Authority, West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation and Area Relief Ministries to create the 'Round-Up' program in Madison County. In the first year, more than $230,000 was raised to be used in a local utility assistance program.

2010 - Severe flooding hit West and Middle Tennessee in May 2010. 11 of the 14 counties in United Way's service area were declared national disaster areas.

2010 - United Way of West Tennessee continue strong partership with Disaster Recovery Services (DRS) in Dyer County and Madison County, both were activated to assist with long-term recovery from the floods. The United Way took the lead to assist in creating a DRS in Haywood County.

2011 - Community Impact goals, outcomes and impacts are required from United Way partner agencies.

2011 - Eddie Lee Herndon was named the president and CEO of the United Way of West Tennessee.

2011 - Scott Conger was named the president and CEO of the United Way of West Tennessee.


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