In 1887, a Denver woman, a priest, two ministers, and a rabbi got together... It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but they didn't walk into a bar; what they did do was recognize the need to work together in new ways to make Denver a better place.
Frances Wisebart Jacobs, the Rev. Myron W. Reed, Msgr. William J.O’Ryan, Dean H. Martyn Hart and Rabbi William S. Friedman put together an idea that became the nation's first united campaign, benefiting 10 area health and welfare agencies. They created an organization to collect the funds for local charities, to coordinate relief services, to counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies, and to make emergency assistance grants for cases that could not be referred. That year, Denver raised $21,700 for this greater good, and created a movement that would become United Way.
United Way of Blair County
Improving lives by uniting people to care for one another.
United Way of Blair County was incorporated on December 17, 1934 as the Altoona Community Chest. Many surrounding communities had their own Community Chest organizations, which gradually became part of the United Way of Blair County at various dates, with the last incorporation of the Tyrone Community Chest in 1972.
United Way of Blair County is an independent 501 (C) (3) organization that is a member agency of United Way Worldwide. Membership dues are 1% of funds raised. As a member agency, United Way of Blair County receives the right to use the United Way brand, access to over 100 corporations that are a part of the Global Corporate Leadership organization, resources and toolkits, advocacy, national advertising and partnerships, and professional development oportunities. Control of United Way of Blair County rests with the local volunteers that serve on the Board of Directors. In 2005, United Way of Blair County transitioned from a traditional “member agency” United Way, where funds were allocated to member agencies, to an Impact-driven United Way, where any 501 ( C) (3) organization that impacts a locally identified need is eligible to apply for funding through a competitive grant process.
In 2020, United Way of Blair County provided over $40,000 of direct relief to Blair County residents struggling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
United Way of Blair County continues to focus on making lasting changes in Blair County by providing community members with the building blocks for a good life—education, health, financial stability, and a safety net for those experiencing emergencies.
- Education: “We envision a Blair County where children and youth achieve their potential."
- Health: "We envision a Blair County where young and old alike are physically and mentally healthy."
- Income: "We envision a Blair County where individuals and families attain financial stability and independence.”
- Meeting Emergency Needs: "We envision a Blair County where there is a safety net for those experiencing emergencies.”
United Way of Blair County strengthens our community by raising and granting funds to programs that address locally identified needs.
Improving Our Community
Other Ways that United Way of Blair County focuses on improving the community are by:
Volunteer Resources: Providing volunteer assistance through Day of Caring /Mini Days of Caring.
Financial Stability: Providing Volunteer Income Tax Assistance to help low-income taxpayers file their returns and claim the benefits available. Collecting and distributing formal wear so that all high school seniors and juniors can attend their school prom through The Glass Slipper Project.
Education/Nurturing Children: Family Resource Center (FRC) has been in Blair County since 1995 and has been operated by United Way of Blair County since March 2008. State funded Family Centers provide direct family support in the forms of home visiting and parenting classes in addition to outreaches that support the community. FRC is funded by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). United Way of Blair County oversees the Family Resource Center.
Parents as Teachers (PAT) is an evidence-based Home Visiting Program that serves families with children prenatally to kindergarten entry in Blair County. Parent educators support the development of strong parent-child relationships by providing information to families about parenting skills, parent-child interactions, developmental centered parenting, and family well-being. Parent educators model, consult, and coach.
Parent educators complete early childhood developmental and social-emotional screenings that focus on the developmental domains of cognitive, language, social-emotional, and fine and gross motor skills. Children with possible developmental delays and vision/hearing/health issues are identified early and referred to further services when needed. Monthly group connections offer children and parents educational and social opportunities.
Family Resource Center has served families in the PAT curriculum throughout Blair County since 1995. Research shows that PAT prevents child abuse and neglect and improves maternal and child health. Certified Parent Educators provide families with information on early brain development and its relationship to their individual child's developmental stage. By understanding what to expect during each stage of development, parents can easily capture the teachable moments in everyday life to enhance their child’s language development, intellectual growth, social development, and motor skills. Family Resource Center provides information and referral to community services. The educator observes the families and continually informs parents of what is available to them in the community and assists with the integration of services. Parenting classes are held at the Family Resource Center.
A “Stuff the Bus” drive provides school supplies to children in need. The “Toasty Toddlers” project collects and distributes coats to children under the age of four.
Health: Spearheaded an Urban Garden project to beautify and increase the safety and sustainability of neighborhoods by revitalizing abandoned lots while increasing the availability of nutritious food, teaching about growing food, and encouraging healthy eating habits. Two garden sites were established with community support and grants from Operation Our Town. FamilyWize Prescription Assistance on average helps 250 people save $2,400 a month.
Community Development: United Way of Blair County completed a county-wide comprehensive needs assessment in conjunction with the Blair County Human Services Office. A new Needs Assessment process is underway and is focused on assessing and improving conditions in Blair County. It is being conducted by the Healthy Blair County Coalition, a broad-based community partnership that includes area hospitals, United Way of Blair County, County of Blair's Human Service Office, Penn State Altoona, and many other agencies and businesses. United Way of Blair County serves as the “home” and fiscal agent for the effort.
United Way of Blair County supported the Development of a PA 2-1-1, Pennsylvania’s part of a nationwide web of call centers that help people access social services by dialing a consistent and easy-to-remember telephone number. Central Region PA 2-1-1 went live on September 18, 2012. Not all regions in Pennsylvania are operational yet.