For the past 10 years, at the close of United Way’s community campaign, I have been fortunate to pen a message of thanks to leadership givers and, more recently, to all of our investors.
When I started at United Way, I heard many stories about former president and CEO Charmaine Chapman. She loved the St. Louis region greatly and the region loved her back. Charmaine was the force behind creating a more inclusive environment at United Way, from our board leadership to the African American and Women’s affinity groups founded by Donald Suggs and Ellen Sherberg, respectively. In addition to raising millions of dollars to help people through the years, these groups planted the seed for other leadership societies, extending United Way’s reach and impact even further.
I was hired by Gary Dollar, our most immediate past president and CEO, over a breakfast meeting at the Chase Park Plaza exactly 10 years ago. Gary’s legacy as our leader included reinforcing our partnership with labor and having the vision to establish United Way’s 2-1-1 Helpline. Gary brokered regional partnerships with Washington, Missouri and divisions in southern Illinois to expand the reach of our local United Way to 16 rural, urban and suburban counties throughout Missouri and Illinois. When Gary retired from his position, he had led the region in generating nearly $2 billion to help our neighbors.
Our United Way is in the business of helping people and building community. We do this each year by partnering with institutions and individuals on their corporate social responsibility, citizenship and community investment goals. Each year, we partner with over 2,500 companies, state and local government, more than 100,000 individuals and scores of causes and community organizations to make great things happen in the lives of 1 million people. Our mission to mobilize the region with one goal in mind – helping people live their best possible lives – is embodied in the thousands of company campaigns we execute each year.
This is the conclusion of our 94th year. We will charge through the 95th year, having our centennial milestone in sight, with the knowledge that we have the best investors, vision casters and volunteers in the galaxy. We are proud of the partnerships we have with so many, yet we recognize the need to continue bridging divisions to chart a future that our entire region can believe in and be a part of.
Thank you for your support in this year’s effort. Because you leaned in, we raised $75,055,451. This is a remarkable feat and represents the largest investment into the St. Louis region. We could not have done it without each of you. Thank you for your continued support, dedication and belief in our plans for the future.