Our History

Our History

In 1887, a Denver priest, two ministers and a rabbi recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems. The Rev. Myron W. Reed, Msgr. William J.O’Ryan, Dean H. Martyn Hart and Rabbi William S. Friedman put their heads together to plan the first united campaign for ten health and welfare agencies. They created an organization to serve as an agent to collect funds for local charities, as well as to coordinate relief services, counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies, and make emergency assistance grants in cases which could not be referred.  That year, Denver raised $21,700 and created a movement that would spread throughout the country to become the United Way. Over 118 years later, United Way is still focused on mobilizing the caring power of communities and making a difference in people’s lives.


In Denver, religious leaders founded the Charity Organizations Society, the first "United Way" organization, which planned and coordinated local services and conducted a single fund-raising campaign for 22 agencies.


The nation's first modern Community Chest was born in Cleveland, where a program for allocating campaign funds was developed.

1946:Community Chest 1946

Local Community Chest is founded. Founders: C. Ridgely White, Sr., Congressman Burr Harrison, and Bill Battaile. Established in 1946 as the Community Chest of Winchester-Frederick the organization had as its mission…”To unite services under a combined effort of caring”.


More than 1,000 communities had established United Way organizations.


Community Chest became United Fund of Winchester-Frederick County is established. $89,000 is raised to meet local needs.


The NFL and the United Way establish their partnership to increase public awareness of social service issues facing the country. In addition to public service announcements in which volunteer NFL players, coaches and owners appear, NFL players support their local United ways through personal appearances, special programs, and sitting on United Way governing boards.


The United Fund faced its own challenge in 1976, as fire consumed its Braddock Street office, forcing a temporary move to George Washington Hotel.  In Winchester, Loudoun Street between Cork and Piccadilly streets was closed to traffic to become Virginia's first pedestrian mall in 1974 and the United Fund raised over $148,000 to help the community.  


The United Fund merged with the Community Chest of Clarke County creating the United Fund of Winchester-Frederick and Clarke Counties.


Expansion within the United Fund included the addition of Shenandoah County, as well as a new name: United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley and a new mission "To increase the organized capacity of people to care for one another."


The corporate community is increasingly demanding easier, more cost-efficient ways to process workplace campaigns. The Board sees these resolutions as the first steps in ensuring that United Way continues to be the premier workplace fund-raiser because of its ability to change to better meet customers' needs through the use of new technology.


In October of 1996, United Way of America identified healthy children, healthy families and healthy communities as focus areas under the strategic plan.


United Ways and the NFL celebrate the 25th Anniversary of their unique partnership and the longest-running sports/charity public service announcement campaign of its kind. The partnership has enabled the United Way to share their special message with 110 million viewers during football season. Over 950 spots have aired since 1973.

LOld Day of Caringocally the United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley initiated Day of Caring, to offer a day of service for hundreds of volunteers to work together on one-day projects.


The United Way NSV annual campaign also entered a new era in 1999 when Campaign Chair Larry VanHoose broke the million-dollar mark.  


United Way and its partners, the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, successfully petition the Federal Communications Commission to designate "211" for health and human services information and referral. Originally created by United Way of Atlanta, 211 is an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable telephone number that makes a critical connection between individuals and families in need and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies.


United Way introduced the bold goals for the common good focused on education, income and health, and LIVE UNITED, a new call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.Live United Long


United Way International and United Way of America came together to create United Way Worldwide, the largest privately-funded nonprofit in the World, with more than 1,800 United Ways in 41 countries and territories.


United Way celebrates its 125th anniversary and enters into partnerships with CNN and CNN international to share the LIVE UNITED message in communities around the world.

Joe Retirement2014:

United Way NSV announces retirement of Joseph Shtulman after 14 years of service with United Way NSV and over 40 years of United Way experience.  Under Joe's tenure our community raised over sixteen million dollars to impact community needs.  


United Way NSV announces new President/CEO, Nadine Pottinga, starting December 30th, 2014.


United Way NSV in partnership with the other United Ways in Virginia, the Virginia ALICE Report, a study on financial instability (July 2017), takes on Page County as part of their geographic footprint (October 2017), holds first Youth Day of Caring with 150 participants at the Youth Development Center, and starts the Valley Assistance Network.


United Way NSV celebrates the 20th consecutive year of fundraising more than one-million dollars in the annual campaign. 


United Way NSV holds first Project Connect event, serving 185 individuals. launches COVID-19 Relief Fund in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and releases 2020-2023 Community Needs Assessment and 2020 ALICE Report.