History of United Way

Click here to read an extended history of the past 80 years of United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region

In 1887, a Denver priest, two ministers, and a rabbi recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare needs. 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 that could not be referred.  That year, Denver raised $21,700 and created a movement that would spread throughout the country and eventually become United Way.

Over 125 years later, United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region is still focused on mobilizing the caring power of communities while making a difference in people’s lives.  


The Poughkeepsie Community Chest was formed. In 1942, The Poughkeepsie Community Chest joined together with five Poughkeepsie war relief organizations and became known as the Greater Poughkeepsie War Chest. 


Greater Newburgh Community Chest, Inc. was formed with the intention to solicit and collect financial contributions for the improvement, development, or care of the health, welfare, and well-being of the residents of the City of Newburgh and surrounding areas. This also included the dispersion of real or personal property in accordance with donors’ wishes. In September 1966 the Greater Newburgh Community Chest, Inc. changed its name to Orange Area United Fund, Inc. 


Dutchess County Community Chest & Council changed its name to United Way of Dutchess County, Inc.


The NFL and the United Way establish their partnership to increase public awareness of social service issues facing the country. In addition to public service announcements in which volunteer NFL players, coaches and owners appear, NFL players support their local United Ways through personal appearances, special programs, and sitting on United Way governing boards.


Orange Area United Fund, Inc. and United Way of Orange County, (originally called United Way of Western Orange County, based in Middletown, NY) consolidated to become United Way of Orange County, Inc.


United Way of America was selected by Financial World magazine as the charity of choice for leadership in nonprofit ethics and accountability.


United Way, its partners, and the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, successfully petition the Federal Communications Commission to designate "211" as a health and human services information and referral number. Originally created by United Way of Atlanta, 211 is an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable telephone number that makes a critical connection between individuals and families in need and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies that can provide assistance. 


In response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Somerset County, PA, United Way of New York City and the New York Community Trust established the September 11th Fund. The purpose of the Fund is to mobilize financial resources to respond to the pressing needs of the victims, their families, and the communities affected by the tragedy. Four months after its establishment, donations to the September 11th Fund totaled more than $425 million. 


In an effort to better serve the Community, United Way of Dutchess County and Orange County United Way officially merge to become United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region.

Help us make history by LIVING UNITED today!

Annual Sponsors

Premier Annual Sponsors: Central Hudson Gas & Electric, M&T Bank, Orange & Rockland, Pratt & WhitneyAnnual Sponsors: IBM, Resorts World, RBT, TD Bank, Ulster Savings