This year, United Way of the Cape Fear Area (UWCFA) celebrates 75 years of helping those in need in our local communities. Over the last seven and a half decades, much has changed, but much remains the same.
What has not changed and what is still the most prominent aspect of what we do is that we raise money on a local level and give it back to local programs that address the most critical needs in our communities. In fact, over these 75 years, UWCFA is proud to say that we have raised what equates to more than $179 million in today’s dollars. So let’s take a minute to walk through a bit of history. It’s been interesting digging through the past on the way to our future.
In looking back, we discovered a rich tradition of community leaders stepping up to spearhead community-wide campaigns that provided the financial resources necessary to address the most current and important issues of their eras. In 1941, UWCFA transitioned from the Community Chest, which reflected a “one campaign for all area charities model,” to the Community War Chest in 1943, which operated as a local charity/war relief fund. In 1953, the name United Fund was adopted before it was changed to Cape Fear Area United Way in 1972. Today and since the mid 2000s, our local organization has been known as United Way of the Cape Fear Area.
It’s interesting that several processes remained constant throughout all of our 75 years. Many years ago, local volunteers were willing to invest their hard earned dollars in a LOCAL collaborative process that pooled donations, large and small, to address community needs identified by other local volunteers. This model of efficiency has grown, adapted and become a stronger, more viable tool to determine critical needs in Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender and Columbus counties. Decades ago, the Community Chest was an organization with an unwavering commitment to people in need in our local community. This included a promise to invest donated funds back into the Cape Fear community while helping to find the best possible solutions for all. Since the mid-2000s, and with the adoption of the Community Impact Business Model, the process of investing in our local health and human service nonprofit programs is stronger than ever. Service outcomes are evaluated on a quarterly basis and have now become the primary metric by which local programs are considered for UWCFA funding.
For United Way of the Cape Fear Area, the past meant funding a short list of local “agencies.” Today, we fund nonprofit “programs” that collaborate and can show proven results that change lives. We now address the root causes to community problems and we focus our efforts in the impact areas of education, financial stability and health. While other organizations try to replicate the United Way Community Impact Model, none have achieved the positive results in this community that we have been privileged to support It takes a community, working together, to make it happen.
We are very proud to say we can show proven results that span the decades … thanks to you and your ongoing generosity.
UWCFA remains as unique today as it was 75 years ago. And with your help and guidance, we plan to continue to impact our local community in the most positive and impactful ways possible for the next 75 years. We know that’s what you want as well and we can’t wait to work with you to change lives.
UWCFA looks forward to sharing our history with you as we move into this year of celebration. We are grateful for the ability to continue to serve the Cape Fear Area with the generous support of local citizens and corporations like you. We Work Here. We Live Here. We Give Here. And we thank you for doing so too. Happy New Year! Here’s to the best year ever!
Christopher L. Nelson is president of the United Way of the Cape Fear Area, a local nonprofit organization. Since 1941, the United Way of the Cape Fear Area has worked alongside local agencies in Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties to assist them in providing substantial and sustainable change within the Cape Fear area. To learn more about the United Way of the Cape Fear Region, go to https://uwcfa.org/ or call (910) 798-3900.
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