Who We Are
Burke County United Way's Mission: "To inspire Burke County's residents and businesses to create a stronger, healthier and happier community through financial generosity and volunteer commitment."
Burke County United Way's Vision: "Burke County will be a vital, caring community where thousands of people mobilize to provide human services for their neighbors."
Burke County United Way's History: In 1956, four gentlemen of this community formed the Burke County United Fund. These gentlemen saw an opportunity to create benefits for our community such as making one campaign out of many, less work for volunteers, bring economy of scale to budget raising, distribute funds fairly and in accordance with needs, give donors the privilege to budget contributions and create a united community.
Those men were T. Henry Wilson, co-founder of Henredon Furniture Industries, who was the first President, Paul Cash, owner of Mimosa Insurance Agency, who was the first Campaign Chair, Nollie Patton, co-founder of State Bank of Burke, and James A. Connelly, owner of Nite Furniture.
The United Fund's first local agencies were Girl Scout Council, American Red Cross, Southmountain Institute, Burke County Safety Council, League for Crippled Children & Adults, and Boy Scouts. The first campaign goal was $34,498.40. That year, the campaign, which only lasted two weeks, raised $56,264, exceeding their goal by $21,766.
Over the next several years, an all volunteer effort resulted in funds collected for agencies each fall for their work over the following year. In 1966, the first Executive Director, Sonny Bounous was hired part-time.
Over the years, the organization had many accomplishments and the campaign continued to grow. In 1977, payroll deduction was instituted and after that $15,000 - $70,000 increases were achieved. In 1983, Burke County United Fund merged with the Lovelady United Fund in Valdese to create one umbrella charity for the entire county. In 1987, a full-time Executive Director, Joyce Mills, was hired for the first time. In 1994, Burke County United Fund changed to Burke County United Way. Then, in 1999, under the leadership of Rev. Tom Bland, over one million dollars was raised for agencies in Burke County.