United Way Simcoe Muskoka – More than a half-century of community impact!
……a look back at the inaugural year though our 1st Annual Report.
In 1960, Barrie United Appeal, as it was then known, held its very first campaign, having been officially incorporated in the final days of 1959. The inaugural appeal was able to raise a quite remarkable $77,000.36 or 116% of its campaign objective of $66,500, well “over the top” as the Chair Trustee R.M. Jennings shared in his 1960 annual report. To put this in perspective, the funding was raised at a time when minimum wage was $1 per hour and the population of Barrie was less than a fifth what it is now.
Mr. Jennings offered thanks in the report on behalf of the Board of Trustees (who were named by the Barrie Chamber of Commerce at the behest of Barrie Town Council) to their media partners for providing awareness, including “Ralph Snelgrove and his associates on TV and radio, and from Ken Walls and his key people at the Barrie Examiner.” Heart-felt appreciation was also offered to Earle Little, first Chairman of the Campaign Committee, A.E. Powell who provided the campaign audit and the other Trustees including such Barrie luminaries as Willard Kinzie, Maurice MacLaren, Gord Roach and Jack Webb.
At that time, there were nine social service agencies conducting regular campaigns in Barrie, seven of whom decided to join forces with the United Appeal. The seven agencies included CNIB, March of Dimes, Red Cross, Retarded Children (as it was then known), St. John Ambulance, VON, and YM/YWCA - many of which still operate in our area. Campaign highlights of that first drive included corporate gifts of $11,000 – well above the Canadian average per employee; more than 45 industries and organizations implementing payroll deduction plans with approximately 2,000 donors participating and 16 captains and 400 volunteers covering the city in a house-to-house canvass.
The anecdotal information in the first annual report is a telling snapshot of culture during the final days of the fifties and early sixties. For example, the Board of Trustees cautioned that “…pledges could shrink if someone left work to get married!” Additionally, the Trustees observed, “there are at least 4,000 housewives in Barrie. Over 400 of these women participated in the last campaign. We felt that it was proper that they have a direct voice in resolving policy matters.”
United Way’s very first report concludes with the determination that financial objectives should be readdressed each year because “…as time goes on the needs of agencies may increase. We might well be in a recession period, be faced some year with lower donations and greater requirements.” As much as some things have changed dramatically, some considerations remain the same.
United Way Centraide Canada and the national UWC movement
… a history
The roots of today’s United Way Centraide Canada (UWCC) reach back to the Great Depression, when the Community Chests and Councils division of the Canadian Welfare Council was formed to provide health and welfare planning.
That was 1939. Years later, the organization evolved its name to the Community Funds and Councils of Canada, yet remained strongly focused on the specific issue of social welfare.
Eventually, the organization’s membership recognized the opportunity to effect greater, more enduring change by taking a broader approach to social policy and development. In 1972, an independent corporate structure was established, with greater resources and capacity for long-term, strategic leadership. In 1975 came a new name: the United Way of Canada— Centraide Canada.
Today, UWCC is one of just a handful of comprehensive community organizations in North America, the national body representing a Movement of more than 100 local United Ways Centraides across the country.
New times, new challenges
Canada has undergone profound changes in the decades since UWCC’s inception. The fundamental experience of community is different today: so too are the needs Canadian communities face.
As a result, our Movement continues to evolve—to remain effective by focusing efforts where they are needed most. We are committed to improving lives and building communities by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action. This is work that requires providing not simply services but also proactive, strategic leadership that helps communities build up their own capacity to confront the challenges facing them.
UWCC speaks on behalf of the Movement at the national level, addressing critical nationwide social and community issues. It works to improve member access to resources and partners by forging relationships with national and international stakeholders—and fosters collaboration among local UWCs to harness their collective power for change.