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United Way of Northern Utah Turns 90: The First Legacy Breakfast

"Celebrating the Past, Embracing the Present, Looking to our Future." 

On December 8 (1 day past the 90th anniversary of the Standard Examiner announcement that "Community Chest Will Be Founded, Sponsored by Chamber of Commerce"), past, present, and future people of United Way of Northern Utah came together to reminisce what our organization has done and muse on what it can be. Gathered at Ogden's 5th Floor, employees from decades past, present board members, and staff as new as two weeks chatted over a warm breakfast donated by Warrens, sharing stories about impactful moments, people, and milestones from their time with UWNU.  Between the feasting and storytelling, three of United Way of Northern Utah's most impactful figures spoke to our organization's Past, Present, and Future. 

Celebrating the Past

Bob Hunter, former CEO and current avid supporter, started the story clear back in 1887 with United Way Worldwide's first campaign, which raised about $800,000 in today's money. He joked that he's "not much older" than United Way, but Bob's strong presence and positive influence will keep him young forever. The program only allotted him 10 minutes, but he was able to highlight some of United Way of Northern Utah's major milestones in that short time, including our first CEO, George Eccles, and the 2005 Swanson Foundation funding that allowed UWNU to start its physical expansion to the capacity we're at today. At the end of his speech, Bob reminded us that memories are fickle things, and we should write down our stories to remember for years to come. 

We grouped together at our tables for a small activity, where we picked out colored Hershey's kisses, and shared an experience corresponding to a color-based prompt. I had the pleasure of listening to a long-time UWNU supporter, UWNU staff spouses, and a current UWNU employee. Our organization touched each of these individuals drastically differently, but just as impactfully. We hope to share their stories soon. 


Embracing the Present

Mandi Schill, Resource Development Director, shared the current shape and work of United Way of Northern Utah. In 2023: 

  • 211 responded to over 3,600 calls in Northern Utah
  • Welcome Baby supported 96% of parents in their program to have higher confidence in parenting. 
  • Learn with Playgroup helped 86% of parents in their program feel their child was more ready for kindergarten. 
  • 72% of students receiving at least 15 hours of intervention through the Student Success Program show academic success.
  • We now have over 20 Little Neighborhood Libraries placed throughout the community, including the Biblioteca Solo en EspnaƱol to reach more of our diverse community.
  • The White House awarded Weber CTC with the Blue Ribbon Award sponsored by the National Coalition Institute and funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. This recognizes groups across the nation for their contributions to substance use prevention outcomes and the impactful changes their recipients have helped foster in their communities. 
  • Nonprofit Connection's Project Blueprint graduated 20 participants. United Way of Northern Utah's Nonprofit Connection is only the second launched in the world. The launch happened at a crucial time where 74% of nonprofits have seen an increase in demand for services. 
  • The new Volunteer Connection, founded last year and just welcomed Gina O'Brian as Volunteer Connection Coordinator this fall, supported over 17,000 volunteer hours impacting Northern Utah.

Mandi ended her overview of our present by reminding us all that United Way of Northern Utah's program has had so much more impact than could be iterated in 10 minutes, but these bullet points helped everyone in the room understand the importance of UWNU's work and feel the way that work is strengthening our Northern Utah community. 


Looking to our Future

Julie Johnson, our current CEO, shared United Way of Northern Utah's future goals and objectives. Having been with United Way of Northern Utah for 11 years, and now our incredible leader, she wonderfully articulated the path she has drawn for United Way of Northern Utah for years to come. She shared 4 strategic plan objectives: 

  1. Be the Community Resource that Brings People Together to Address our Complex Community Issues
  2. Be the Trusted Partner That Builds the Capacity and Capability of our Nonprofit Partners Through Connections and Resources 
  3. Be the Organization that Develops our People Where They Feel Valued and Have High Morale
  4. Be a Charity That Maximizes our Donors' Return on Investment

Of the many UWNU action examples that Julie shared, there's one that is imminent and exciting for past, present, and future UWNU people: the Nonprofit Connection Learning Campus Capital Campaign. United Way of Northern Utah is currently fundraising to renovate their building at 2955 Harrison Blvd so they can better support nonprofit partners and serve the community. The learning campus will provide 15 spaces for nonprofit growth, a functional kitchen/break space for community and relationship building, and free wireless internet access for nonprofits to utilize. This future vision of our building will educate, empower, and build up our local nonprofits: 

  • Education: the NPC Learning Campus will provide tools and resources for nonprofits to build sustainability practices and efficiently meet their mission.
  • Empowerment: the NPC Learning Campus will give nonprofits the support they need to maintain (or grow!) capacity and strengthen their mission.
  • Build: the NPC Learning Campus will build the capacity of our nonprofits, thus furthering UWNU's mission to Unite people and organizations to build health, stable, and well-educated communities.

The 2023 Legacy Breakfast perfectly encapsulated what we hope UWNU's 90th birthday to be: beautiful, exciting, memorable, and impactful. 

If you couldn't to attend the Legacy Breakfast, never fear! Our 90th Birthday isn't one day, it's a whole year. Stay involved and join us in all our birthday party festivities:

As we enter into 2024, United Way of Northern Utah looks forward to celebrating with all of you, recognizing the milestones of our past, lauding our present work and program initiatives, and joyfully anticipating our future.