Our Story

Learn more about our history.  
It just might inspire you to build a better future.



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

Today, United Way is still focused on mobilizing the caring power of communities and making a difference in people’s lives. There are nearly 1800 local United Ways in 45 countries around the world. Ohio has 65 local United Ways.



  • United Way of Portage County was organized early in 1967. It represented the merging of the Kent Twin Lakes, Ravenna and Portage County United Fund. 

  • The first Board of Trustees was 36 members; President, Robert White, total of 17 agencies plus local assistance programs were supported.

  • Fred Haschel, served as Chairman for first Budget Committee.    

  • Robert C. Dix, served as Campaign Chairman in 1968.               

  • In March 1976, the United Fund of Portage County became the United Way of Portage.

  • In 1987, 1st Annual Portage Senior Bowl.

  • As a thank you to all the volunteers, UWPC sponsored a “Night to Remember” at Sea World on September 10, 1987. 

  • UWPC hit its goal and then some in 1988. 

  • UWPC service “Thanks to you” contribution, helped 75,000 People in Portage County. 

  • In 1994, First Annual Days of Caring-more than 140 individuals represented 18 companies & organizations participated.

  • In 2004, UWPC Video Honored-Campaign earns first place at competition award of excellence.

  • In the same year, provided free charge for all Portage County residents, formerly call “First Call for Help”, manages over 14,000 calls a year, maintains a data base of over 800 programs in Portage County and produces numerous resources pub for schools, hospitals and other organizations.

  • In 2005, United Way of Portage Campaign goal $275,406.

  • In 2006, First call for help-UWPC gets phone grants-received $10,000 from the Dominion Foundation and Henry V. & Frances W. Christenson Foundation. Extending its services to wireless customers in Portage County, during this period, cell phones replacing land lines as primary telephones.

  • 2018-2019, UWPC supported agencies served 32,753 meals to Portage county residents, last year UWPC agencies also run food cupboards to provide emergency food to the needy.


United Way of Portage County is a volunteer-based organization that supports the greatest variety of health & human services in the county, reaching people from all walks of life and income groups. Its single community-wide campaign unites businesses, volunteers and citizens to raise funds to support local family and community needs.



As you see, over the years many lives and communities have been enriched and improved; however, there is still a need to change and further improve the quality of every individual and community; but we can’t do it without you.  We can make a difference the United Way… join us.