Sixty years ago, Indian River County was poised to become what it is today: a community with a great capacity for giving, fostered by individuals who are willing to devote their time and skills to building, nurturing and protecting the unique sense of place all residents want to share — even the most vulnerable and needy.
The founding of United Way of Indian River County in 1961 was vital to that development. This year, as we celebrate its 60th anniversary, we look back at the birth and evolution of this organization and its impact on the critical human service needs we continue to face. And what do we see? United Way is more relevant than ever.
Many residents associate United Way with its traditional role of raising money locally and distributing it to worthy organizations within the community. And this model continues to hold true. But when it comes to addressing our county’s most pressing needs, United Way has been increasingly found at the forefront spearheading efforts. Examples include the Mental Health Collaborative, Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative, and the response to the COVID pandemic.
But before United Way grew to its present-day strength, its focus in the early days was indeed straightforward and limited.