The United Fund or Community Chest, as we were previously known, began back in the fall of 1966. The first meeting was held with some community members on August 18, 1966, at Central Grade School in Crystal Lake, and David J. Blahnik, President of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce, presided. It was decided that during the week of October 24 that year, they would host a United Fund Drive in “an effort to eliminate many of the individual tag days and fund drives of the past because so many deserving organizations have fallen short of their goals.” They believed that a United Fund Drive would be more successful than individual drives and would demand less time and effort on the part of volunteers.
The first organizations to sign up and receive donations were the McHenry County Chapter American Red Cross, Blackhawk Area Council Boy Scouts of America, Chicago Missionary Society, Crystal Lake Public Welfare, Sybaquay Girl Scout Council Inc., Illinois Children’s Home and Aid Society, The Salvation Army and Woodstock Childrens’ Home.
In a document dated December 13, 1966, it was noted that they raised $21,680.41 that first campaign and that the average size of a pledge contribution was $13.11!
United Way of McHenry County emerged 1978 from a reorganized United Way of Crystal Lake. In 1981, it merged with the United Way of Cary Grove-Oakwood Hills.
The reorganization and merger were prompted by the realization that member agencies were serving residents of the entire county and that a single organization could more effectively conduct charitable activities throughout the county.
From 1981 through 1984, our United Way participated in a regional fund-raising and allocation effort with the Chicago-based United Way/Crusade of Mercy and United Way of Suburban Chicago. United Way of McHenry County eventually concluded that its longer-term charitable support needs would be best served by independent status, and it withdrew from the regional organization at the end of 1984.
Since 1984, United Way of McHenry County has concentrated on our residents' health and human service needs. Our campaign has grown from $310,000 raised in 1984 to a record $2,133,043 raised in 2001. Our United Way is proud to allocate dollars to support 31 local nonprofits, support 50 programs, and run the Ride United Last Mile Delivery Program which provides local food pantries to arrange for free deliveries. To date, we have raised over $60 million to invest in McHenry County!!
As our community continues to grow, the demand for services is greater than ever. We are committed to being more than a fund-raiser for our partner agencies as we work toward building a stronger community by mobilizing resources to create positive solutions to greater McHenry County’s most pressing needs.