About United Way

Our Mission

To inspire Burke county residents and businesses to create a stronger healthier and happier community through financial generosity and volunteer commitment.


In 1956, four gentlemen, T. Henry Wilson, co-founder of Henredon Furniture Industries, who was the first President, Paul Cash, owner of Mimosa Insurance Agency, Nollie Patton, co-founder of State Bank of Burke, and James A. Connelly, owner of Nite Furniture, formed the Burke County United Fund.  Their purpose was to create benefits for our community by creating one campaign that would 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. 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 years, the organization had many accomplishments and the campaign continued to grow.  In 1977, payroll deduction was instituted, and major monetary 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.  1999 saw the first ONE-MILLION-dollar campaign. In 2016, the organization celebrated its 60th anniversary and noted having invested more than $27,000,000 back in the community.

Today, Burke County United Way continues to drive change and meet needs. The organization is in the process of adapting its business model to meet the changes in the philanthropic market place. Plans are to diversify funding streams; facilitate community ‘listen and learn sessions’ to target needs and stakeholder interests; enhance donor stewardship and communication; and demonstrate and market community impact. Burke County United Way is committed to collaborative partnerships that “improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.”