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.
In 1957, United Way of McMinn County was founded by a group of local business leaders who wanted to create one centralized fundraising campaign for the community. The first year, they raised $17,000. We now raiser over $720k per year. In the late 1990’s Meigs County was added and we became United Way of McMinn & Meigs Counties. Since 1957, we have invested more than $25 million back into McMinn & Meigs Counties.