Together we stand stronger

Together we stand stronger

 

By working together, people can achieve the greatest good for their communities. It’s a simple idea that can have a massive impact. In 1923, Columbus, Ohio, residents put the concept to the test with the organization of the Columbus Community Fund.

By working together, people can achieve the greatest good for their communities. It’s a simple idea that can have a massive impact. In 1923, Columbus, Ohio, residents put the concept to the test with the organization of the Columbus Community Fund.

The fund, the predecessor of today’s United Way of Central Ohio, was formed to raise and distribute donations among 28 human service agencies in Columbus and Franklin County. With the fund, groups such as the Jewish Welfare Federation, the Breathing Association and the Columbus Cancer Clinic could benefit from one communitywide effort to raise money and tackle local social problems.1The model for such an association started in Denver in 1887, and many of them later became known as United Way.

B.G. Huntington, Huntington Bank’s future president and son of its founder, P.W. Huntington, volunteered to help lead the inaugural effort in Columbus.2And the first Columbus Community Fund campaign in 1923 raised $600,769, far surpassing the target goal of $488,425.3

The next year’s campaign, a true community affair, included 2,500 volunteers, “chosen regardless of race, color or creed,” to work toward a goal of $584,912. F.R. Huntington led the special prospects division of solicitors in 1924, while T.S. Huntington served on the budget committee, continuing the Huntington family’s legacy of service to the community.4B.G. would serve on the fund’s board of trustees for years.

Over the following decades, the Columbus Community Fund went by many names — including the Community Chest, War Chest and United Appeal — as combined appeals programs grew nationwide to meet communities’ needs. By the 1940s, businesses and national labor groups were allowing employees to participate in combined community fundraising through payroll reductions.5Many of these programs eventually became United Way organizations. The Columbus group adopted the name United Way of Franklin County in 1972, and became United Way of Central Ohio in 2000.

Huntington Bank colleagues and leaders remained dedicated volunteers, raising millions of dollars and giving their time to serve Huntington’s communities through United Way. Huntington colleagues serve on the boards of United Way chapters in each of the bank’s 11 regions. And Huntington CEO and President Steve Steinour is co-chairman of the 2015-16 campaign for United Way of Central Ohio with his wife, Patti Steinour. Recently, Huntington has also partnered with United Way’s annual “Stuff The Bus” program, providing thousands of backpacks and school supplies for underprivileged children around the Midwest.6

Sometimes, however, the giver is also the recipient.

Not long after Huntington entered the Cleveland market in the 1980s, Senior Vice President Donna Celebucki enthusiastically began leading Huntington’s colleague campaign for Cleveland’s United Way chapter. But by 1987, the effort had taken a decidedly personal turn. Her son, who had recently been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, began attending Diabetes Foundation programs supported by United Way.

“When you’re volunteering your time to these programs, you never think you could be directly affected,” Celebucki said. “But it really affects us all.”7

Copy of Huntington beautification day employees - Alliance OH - the-review (3)

Huntington colleagues volunteer for United Way’s Beautification Day in Alliance, Ohio. Photo Credit: The Alliance Review8