Niles’ United Way: 50 years of doing what matters

Published 4:28 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2003

By By ELIZABETH WATSON / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- To a 10-year-old, 50 years is a long time.
To a tortoise, 50 years is perhaps just half a lifetime.
To an organization that cares about "what matters," 50 years is just the beginning of great things to come.
As the United Way of Greater Niles celebrates 50 years of existence, we look back reflectively, while looking forward expectantly. We look back at its beginnings, service, mission and accomplishments. We look forward with an ongoing commitment to strengthen families, support older individuals, nurture children and youth, and foster independence among adults.
Actually, before 1953, the machinery was put into motion for the United Way.
Carribil Young writes, "I was on the original committee who met in Harlow Shannon's office at the Telephone Company, with Jerry Tyler as chairman, when we originated the 'Golden Rule Fund' now called the "United Way."
Carribil refers to a meeting held back in 1941. She was one of the "women of Niles who went door-to-door collecting funds" for other foundling organizations such as the Red Cross and Boy Scouts.
Through the charitable giving to these organizations, they have now grown to such proportions that they no longer depend on United Way contributions to be sustained.
Another person involved with the beginnings of the UWGN was Maurice Hahn. An auditor by training, Hahn guided the fledgling organization through the legal and financial maze to establish a solid financial base and receive credibility in the community.
Recognizing "what mattered" even then, Hahn said, "I was pleased and committed to serve my community through my talents and connections."
From its inception, the United Way of Greater Niles annually supported at least a dozen community programs, enabling them to meet community needs.
During these 50 years of doing what matters, nearly two dozen different organizations have been awarded contribution dollars. Several of the recipient agencies who benefited from the contributions and grew to the point where they no longer needed funding include: The American Cancer Society, Hot Lunch programs (Niles, Brandywine &Howard Schools), and Pawating Hospital.
Incorporated in 1953, the articles of incorporation stated that the purpose of the then named "United Fund of Greater Niles, Inc." was "to promote high standards of economy and efficiency in all social work agencies, individually and collectively and to prevent waste and duplication of effort. To promote the social welfare of the City of Niles environs, encourage groups and community plans among the citizens of Niles for civic, benevolent and social agencies. To advise in the undertaking of new work by assisting agencies and the formation of new agencies, to promote the proper development of all public and proper agencies dealing with social problems. To create and continue permanently a fund to be know as the United Fund of Greater Niles to be collected cooperatively through voluntary subscriptions as well as by gifts, bequests and other legal means, which fund shall be periodically disbursed by the corporation, pursuant to its by-laws, rules and regulations."
These lofty goals have been fulfilled throughout the years as the United Way of Greater Niles did what mattered by supporting such organizations as the American Red Cross, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, Niles Association for Exceptional Citizens (NAFEC), the Salvation Army and the YMCA just to mention a few.
Our Future
As the fall campaign begins, executive director John Stauffer said, "Although the United Way receives no government money, more than 11,000 people in the Niles area were helped by our partner agencies last year. I am pleased by the support we receive from private individuals and businesses to help meet the needs of our community. We are headed in a positive direction."
Certainly this would not be possible without the many volunteers who serve as board members, help raise the funds and evaluate the needs of the local area.
Expressing appreciation on behalf of each recipient of United Way assistance, Stauffer added, "it is gratifying to be supported by volunteers who really understand what matters!"