QUINCY — They saw a need.

That, in a nutshell, is what triggered a group of civic-minded individuals and organizations to lay the foundation for what we know today as United Way of Adams County.

United Way is celebrating its 80th anniversary, having raised more than $45 million in that time to strengthen — and better — life in Adams County.

The United Way was born as the Community Chest in 1937, and underwent a series of name changes before becoming the United Way of Adams County, a moniker that has stuck since 1977.

The United Way burst to life as the Community Chest when the presidents and other members of local Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions and Exchange clubs fashioned a blueprint for a philanthropic organization.

Those early leaders' plan was “to develop teamwork among social service agencies in Quincy and their constituencies in the interest of the financial support of such agencies, and the effective planning and execution (to better) this community.”

Frank Strieby, who was president of the Community Chest board of directors and chaired the 1957 campaign, may have best summed up the feelings and goals of the organization in those early years.

“It should be remembered that the Community Chest is a total community responsibility, combining in one appeal many and varied agencies and should be supported by all citizens with their voluntary help, as well as finances,” Strieby said in a 1957 article in The Herald-Whig.

The first annual campaign generated $69,991, which was distributed to Blessing Hospital, Boy Scouts, Chaddock School, Cheerful Home, Negro Advancement Association, Salvation Army, St. Joseph Hospital, St. Mary Hospital, Woodland Home, YMCA and YWCA.

The goal had been $60,000, which was surpassed with the help of 6,567 contributors.

One of the first major milestones in United Way fundraising came in 1979 when the campaign topped $500,000 for the first time. Donald Gnuse chaired that campaign.

“I think everyone, when he leaves this world, should be able to feel that he leaves it a little better than he found it,” Gnuse said after the 1979 campaign.

By 1997, the annual campaign was raising more than $1 million. That's a figure the United Way has now exceeded 20 consecutive years.

Of the more than $45 million the United Way has raised during its first 80 years, approximately $40 million of that total has been awarded to partner organizations.

“The people in Quincy and Adams County have pretty much demonstrated through the years that they will rise to the need,” Harry “Bo” Eaton, chairman of the 1982 campaign, said in 1982, the first year the fundraiser generated more $600,000.

Emily Robbearts, current executive director of the United Way of Adams County, says the success of the organization and its campaign also can be traced to the area where it thrives.

“We have a collaboration of cooperation and trust in Adams County that is unlike many other (counties),” she said, “The United Way has helped foster that culture.”

The words of 1977 campaign chairman Irv Schechter punctuate Robbearts' point.

“Everything that's being done with this money is good,” he said. “It's all good. How can you argue with good?”

Here's a look at the 20 consecutive years the campaign has reached $1 million or more:

Year - Board President - Campaign Chairman - Total

  • 2016: Jenny Hayden, Todd Moore, $1.010 million
  • 2015: Tim White, Mark Hayes, $1.117 million
  • 2014: Rick Halter, Chris Niemann, $1.227 million
  • 2013: Debbie Naught, Jerry Jackson, $1.210 million
  • 2012: Bonnie Scranton, John Letts, $1.183 million
  • 2011: Jim Broemmer, Carlos Fernandez, $1.082 million
  • 2010: Shawn Dickerman, Mike Mahair, $1.074 million
  • 2009: Harold Marcionetti, Terry Myers, $1.118 million
  • 2008: David Penn, Brad Billings, $1.204 million
  • 2007: Larry Shepherd, Harold Marcionetti, $1.175 million
  • 2006: Sue Osier, Scott Ruff, $1.112 million
  • 2005: Douglas Aeilts, Dave Boster, $1.006 million
  • 2004: Bryant Burke, Art Greenbank, $1.014 million
  • 2003: Zigrida Brown, Douglas Aeilts, $1.001 million
  • 2002: Steven Siebers, Bryant Burke, $1.000 million
  • 2001: Todd Shackelford, Ted Awerkamp, $1.064 million
  • 2000: Warren Brush, Larry Swearingen, $1.052 million
  • 1999: Harry Cramer, Charles Davis, $1.012 million
  • 1998: Bob Johnson, Leo Henning, $1.003 million
  • 1997: Diane Weber, Gerry Korb, $1.003 million

First $900,000 Campaign

1995: Al Skiles, Richard McNay, $901,216

First $800,000 Campaign

1990: Terry Mickle, James Strieby, $808,362

First $700,000 Campaign

1988: James Waterkotte, Randy McFarland, $715,079

First $600,000 Campaign

1982: Joseph Bocke, Harry “Bo” Eaton, $607,239

First $500,000 Campaign

1979: Jeannette G. Bitter, Donald Gnuse, $523,027

First $400,000 Campaign

1972: Robert T. Fluent, William McCleery, $429,403

First $300,000 Campaign

1963: Edward C. Hess, Gifford Leece, $325,625

First $200,000 Campaign,

1960: William H. Miller, William H. Miller, $203,697

First $100,000 Campaign

1943: James McGee James, McGee/Mark Penick, $105,753

First Campaign

1937: Ray A. Hose Ro,derick Miller, $69,991

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