About United Way

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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 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 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.  1999 saw the first ONE MILLION dollar campaign.

Today United Way is still under the governance of community leaders who make local decisions on allocations, budgets and programs with the assistance from staff and the allocations committee. United Way offers donor choice and payroll deduction. Burke County United Way is a separate 501 ©3 organization that maintains a membership with United Way of America and the North Carolina United Way.