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Posted: April 11, 2019

Celebrating 50 years United For Our Community

May 26 will mark the Golden Anniversary of the United Way East Kootenay.

From humble beginnings in 1969 when following the organizational efforts of Leo Nimsick Jr. and a group of caring citizens, the Cranbrook and District United Appeal Society was incorporated as a charitable organization.

The founding 12 member Board of Directors were elected to one and two year terms and consisted of: Frank Neads, President; Larry Root, Vice-President; Ted Teetzel, Sec.-Treasurer and Directors: Rand Archibald, Don McDonald, Robert Haine, Hugh Cameron, Stewart Pederson, Joe Hirsh, Bud Abbott, Ron Dale and Don Anderson.

The dedication of the original board is to be applauded as they had their work cut out for them.

Meeting on the first and third Wednesday of every month, their duties included setting up the agency’s constitution, bylaws, budget, and policies and procedures for legal application and agreement. It was noted in the minutes that “it may take as long as two years to iron out some of the wrinkles.”

A part-time secretary, Marjorie McKee, was hired and the process of inviting community agencies as members of the United Appeal Society began. The goal was $30,000 that first year and at the end of the initial campaign we managed to raise slightly over that amount.

In 1970, nine community agencies received funding totalling $24,000.

Over the past 50 years almost $5 million has been raised and re-invested in our communities.

One of the original applicants, The Dr. F.W. Green Memorial Home, is still receiving funding today for their recreational programming.

Much has changed in our community over the past 50 years and the United Way’s impact has expanded with the times. Its emphasis continues to address the underlying causes of social problems and working towards effecting sustainable long‐term change that makes a difference for our neighbours, families, friends and community.

The United Way is an organization that creates and nurtures partnerships. It mobilizes communities, agencies and supporters to achieve shared common goals. The UW empowers local people.

United Way East Kootenay is helping to change lives by making strategic investments across the East Kootenay to help move people from poverty to possibility, foster health and wellness and create a stronger community that helps kids be everything they can be. We do this through assisting local organizations to provide vital health and social programs for those in need.

In addition to funding crucial programs United Way works closely with our community partners to address the underlying causes that negatively impact our community. We seek to strengthen the capacity of community networks and work collaboratively to change and improve the quality of life for all.

Looking to the next 50 years for leadership in our community, the United Way hopes to continue to support and educate local children and youth creating opportunities for them to become strong leaders through investments to; the Cranbrook Boys and Girls Club, Lee Spark Youth Centre and the Windermere Valley Youth Centre.

We must encourage young people to get involved in philanthropy, build community awareness and learn new skills. These program help to address some of the needs in our community around youth priorities. The United Way will continue to increase its role beyond being just a funder to being a community builder. We will continue partnering with local community organizations to improve and expand programs and services, such as in the Seniors in Partnership Committee, the Age Friendly Project and The Life Kit Project.

In celebration of our history and successes, we are conducting Community 50/50 raffles with the first starting mid April with a winner drawn July 31.

The second raffle will begin July 31 with a winner drawn December 20. Complete information will be out in April on posters and in the media. Additional events will include a Community Celebration on August 24 with details to follow in the next few months.

Watch our Facebook page announcing our Annual General Meeting to be held at the United Way office at 930 Baker Street. Everyone is welcome to attend. 2019 will be a challenging and exciting year. If you would like to play a larger role in your community consider volunteering with your United Way.

Submitted by United Way East Kootenay

Bill Barger, Board Director and Donna Fields, Executive Director

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