GAUW History

History of the Graham Area United Way, Inc.

The GAUW began on March 3, 1956 in a meeting of the civic committee of the Graham Chamber of Commerce; Dr. J.W. Spears stated that this committee had an extensive program outline by Bruce Street, Chamber President, concerning the need for a community chest program. Over the next few months, this committee surveyed the community and all civic clubs about forming this program and received almost 100% approval, thus creating the Graham Community Chest Fund.

At the July 5, 1956 regular meeting of the chamber, Frank Jennings, Chairman of this committee reported his committee had met and nominated the first board: Garth Baker, Jim Spence, Norman Stovall, Frank Atchison, John Gilmer, Gene Glass, Dr. E.L. Gowen, Hugh Grubbs, Burton Kirtley, M.W. Larmour, Loren Maples, John Matthews, Gordan Nees, Brown Walker, Boyd Street, Raymon Thompson, Truman Mayes, E.R. Clifton, Mrs. W.F. Whittenburg, Mrs., Ruth Baldwin, C.F. Harman, Clint Rutherford, Lou Pitcock, Jr., Mark Jones, Frank Jenning and 33 other members. B.W. King, Jr. was the first President and Brown Walker was the first campaign chairperson. Norman Stovall Jr served as President in 1957.

The first successful campaign was conducted in the fall of 1956 with the goal set at $15,000.00 to serve several youth programs such as Y-Teens, Teen Canteen, Scouting, Graham Youth Council, Little League Ball; other agencies in the beginning were the USO, Salvation Army, Red Cross, Gonzales Warm Springs and Lincoln Sewing Class. Mr. Dan Eddy, Public Relations from the Salvation Army in Dallas was the first keynote speaker at the first Kick Off.

For several years, the chamber of commerce handled the administration of the community chest fund.In 1965, a resolution was drafted to the chamber requesting a community calendar of all the charitable and fund raising event to be established. At this time the Community Chest Fund became a separate office from the chamber, however the office was still located inside the chamber building. In 1966, Guy Meacham and Gene Marchman were appointed to reorganize and redraw the By-Laws of the Community Chest Fund and at this time the 33-man board was eliminated and a 9-man board was established. The Community Chest Fund was incorporated in 1978 and the name was changed to the Graham Area United Way, Inc.

In 1989 the GAUW begin the process to receive funding from FEMA for the Young County Food and Shelter Program. Since those times, the Graham Area Crises Center has been one of the main recipients. Around 1992 the board voted to move the office to its present location at 512 Second Street.

Today the Graham Area United Way has over 250+ volunteers from the Executive Board, Board of Directors, Allocation Board, Campaign Organization Cabinet, packet workers, public speakers, and individuals from businesses that help with employee pledges & employee programs. The majority of Graham’s most prominent citizens have served one time or another on the GAUW board.

Presently we serve 17 agencies in our community and more than likely yourself or someone you know has or will use one of these agencies. They are the American Red Cross, Bethel Children Day Care, Boy Scouts, Camp Sweeny-So West Diabetic Camp, Friends of the Library-Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Graham Area Crisis Center, Graham Benevolence Fund, Graham L.L. Softball, Graham L.L. Baseball, Girls Scouts, Humane Society of Young County, Meals on Wheels, Senior Citizens, The Rock, Young County Child Welfare, Young County 4-H and Virginia’s House A Family Resource Center. After reviewing the agencies you can see why in 1986 the campaign slogan was, YOUR GIFT TO US BECOMES…OUR GIFT TO YOU!

The needs in our community have changed over the years, but Graham Area United Way funds still stay in the Graham Community where the money raised helps our friends and neighbors.