In the beginning... and now.

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The winter of 1887 was particularly cold and hard in Denver, Colorado. The silver mines had closed and people wandered the streets hungry and homeless.

Clergy from the four largest parishes responded to the plight of the needy by seeking help from merchants and businesses. They discovered very quickly that the men of the cloth were in competition with each other as they made their calls. So they decided to join forces and to make a united request to anyone who might be in a position to offer some assistance to the less fortunate. Together they would seek what aid they could and together they would share it amongst their parishioners.

And in those humble beginnings in Denver, Colorado, in 1887 the first United Way was born.

The United Way/Centraide Canada movement has been in existence since the early 1920’s. The National organization now represents 119 autonomous member United Ways across Canada, and supports them as they carry out their mandate “To improve lives and build community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action.”

The United Way was incorporated under the name “United Fund of the Upper Ottawa Valley” in January 1971, and subsequently the organization changed its name to United Way/Centraide of the Upper Ottawa Valley Inc. in 1989. With expansion into Renfrew South in 1997, amalgamation with the Deep River District United Way on January 01, 2009, and a corporate name change in early 2010, the organization is now known as Renfrew County United Way. The organization serves all of Renfrew County, plus contiguous areas of Nipissing District (i.e. South Algonquin Township) and Pontiac County. The underlying concept of the United Way is to carry out a single campaign in order to maximize dollars available to our local agencies.

Agencies provide services that range from health and rehabilitation, to programs that assist the physically and mentally disadvantaged to live normal and satisfying lives. Some programs are available to simply enrich and improve the lives of everyone.

Because caring agencies are so much a part of our day-to-day life, the recipient may not even be aware that United Way financial support is ensuring that help is available. The scope of the United Way’s service is so wide that we believe one person in four will be touched by at least one United Way supported program or service in the community.