The organization we know today as the United Way of Jefferson and North Walworth Counties was organized on August 9, 1943, as the War and Community Chest of Fort Atkinson. The organizational meeting was called by a committee of five, appointed by the Chamber of Commerce in November of 1942, to create a War and Community Chest for Fort Atkinson. The committee was comprised of: Charles B. Rogers, Chairman; W.D. Hoard, Jr.; Harry J. Neipert; Ray Gardiner; Elmore F. Klement; and, E.R. Parker, “secretary” of the Chamber of Commerce sitting in as an ex-officio member. Later, that committee asked Richard Leach and John F. Burke to become members as both had previous Community Chest experience.
With between 50 and 60 persons present, Mr. Rogers was nominated as Chairman and E. R. Parker as Secretary. A proposed constitution and bylaws were discussed with some changes made, and subsequently adopted. A governing board of 21 members was elected with the secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and the city manager as ex-officio members. The following persons comprised the first Board of Directors:
Charles B. Rogers W.D. Hoard, Jr.
Harry Neipert Ray G. Gardinier
George A. Mast Henrik Moe
Edward C. Jones, Sr. William Geldard
James A. Muir Herbert B. Bruch
Dr. B. V. Schoenborn J.M. Jensen
E.F. Daly John F. Burke
Richard W. Leach E.S. Engan
C.G. Wendt Glen Keating
Mrs. D. A. Clark Mrs. A. E. Waterman
Mrs. Forrest C. Touton E.F. Klement, Ex-Officio
E.R. Parker, Ex-Officio
The Fort Atkinson War and Community Chest continued to function as an unincorporated fund raising organization and therefore came to be known as “The Fort Atkinson Community Chest and United Fund.” The record resumes with the dissolution of the unincorporated Fort Atkinson Community Chest and United Fund at the Annual Meeting held February 19, 1963. It was then moved to organize a corporation to be known as United Fund of Fort Atkinson, Inc. and to select directors thereof, such corporation to take over the functions of the unincorporated United Fund of Fort Atkinson and the Fort Atkinson Community Chest. The new corporation’s bylaws provided for a board comprised of 15 directors and the first board members were:
Gordon Day Kenneth Pattow
Emery Huber, Treasurer Stanley Roglitz
Mrs. Russel Swearingen Eugene Meyer, President
David Cunningham Edward C. Jones, Sr.
Ned Sperry Juanita Schreiner, Secretary
James Vance William Rose
Eugene Hafemann Robert Mansavage
Kenneth Zaspel, Vice President E. Richard Depper, Ex-Officio and Registered Agent
The campaign goal that year was $25,353 and Jim Vance was Drive Chairman with Woodrow Bienfang as Co-Chairman. The organization had been affiliated with the United Fund of America from its inception and used its campaign materials and slogans. The United Fund of America became the “United Way” in the early 1970’s and while the Fort Atkinson organization continued to use the materials and call themselves The Fort Atkinson Area United Way, Inc. during their 1973-74 campaign, the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws were not amended to make the name official until action was taken at the annual meeting February 10, 1976.
Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s our local United Way continued to experience growth in its annual campaign. In 1985 the first $100,000 goal was set by the board of directors and exceeded under campaign chair Steve Zimmerman. Seven years latter, in 1992, with the expansion of the United Way’s local campaign beyond the borders of Fort Atkinson and into the communities of Jefferson and Whitewater, our United Way campaign exceeded $200,000 under the guidance of campaign co-chairs Vern Falk, David Smith and Carroll Olm. In 1999 yet another milestone was reached when our United Way campaign surpassed $300,000.
Today, the service area of our local United Way is comprised of the communities of Fort Atkinson, Helenville, Jefferson, Lake Mills, Palmyra, Sullivan and Whitewater where over 45,000 individuals reside. Furthermore, our United Way works with an average of thirty partner agencies which provide various health and human services to over 25,000 individuals in our community.
Additionally, our local United Way works beyond our annual campaign to improve the quality of life of our communities’ residents in the following ways. United Grove Community Garden, Impact 211 resource call center, Ride United program (provides free transportation to and from local food pantries for low-income, elderly and disabled individuals in Fort Atkinson, Jefferson & Whitewater), and a free online volunteer database found at www.volunteermain.com.