United Way Services of Geauga County's History

The History of United Way Services of Geauga County

In April of 1961 a group of Geauga County citizen approached the Community Chest of Greater Cleveland and the Welfare Federation to enter into a temporary agreement with regards to a fund-raising partnership and allocations for additional Red Feather agency services.

On April 21, 1961, principals of the Geauga County United Fund study Committee, The Community Chest of Greater Cleveland and The Welfare Federation of Cleveland signed a temporary two year agreement under which Red Feather services would be made available to residents of Geauga County, on the same basis as they serve Cuyahoga County.

 Under this agreement, The United Appeal of Greater Cleveland (a fund-raising partnership of the Chest and Greater Cleveland Chapter of The American Red Cross) will conduct a fund-raising campaign in Geauga County as part of its October appeal. 

In separate action, the Geauga County Chapter of The American Red Cross placed a resolution before the national Board of Governors calling for merger of the Geauga County Chapter into the Greater Cleveland Chapter.  This action took effect on July 1, 1961.

The agreement providing Red Feather agency services in Geauga County and the merging of the Geauga County Red Cross Chapter into the Greater Cleveland Chapter, came after a year of negotiations, and as a result of an extensive study by the Geauga County United Fund Study Committee.  

This latter committee was made up of more then 40 Geauga County leaders.  Its first chairman was Ward Lawrence, Chardon insurance executive.

Action toward setting up the agreement came as a result of growing demands on the part of Geauga County residents for social agency services.

Early studies of the committee centered on development of a separate United Fund in Geauga County.  This would have meant unnecessary and expensive duplication of Cleveland services and probably disastrous competition in fund raising.

A questionnaire survey conducted by the committee showed the greatest need to be for family counseling services.  Other needs were for child guidance, psychiatric help, assistance with problems of alcoholism, homemaker services and rehabilitation services.

Signing of the agreement on April 21, 1961, was not given immediate publicity, since it was planned that a formal signing would be re-enacted at a Geauga County Civic Dinner welcoming the United Appeal of Greater Cleveland to Geauga County. 

On May 4, 1961 releases to all media, announcing the civic dinner and formal signing scheduled for May 17, 1961 at the Chardon High School Cafeteria at 6:30 pm were made. 

Sponsors of the affair were nine Geauga Companies:

  •  Assembly Products, Inc.
  • Chardon Rubber Company
  • Chardon Savings Bank Company
  • First National Bank of Burton
  • Geauga County National Bank
  • Geauga Industries
  • Johnson Rubber Company
  • Snapout Forms Company
  • The Middlefield Banking Company 

Invited to the event were civic and business leaders in Geauga County, together with representatives of the United Appeal of Greater Cleveland, the Community Chest of Greater Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Welfare Federation of Cleveland.  Some 200 guests were expected. 

Signing of the agreement enabled the Community Chest of Greater Cleveland to immediately implement plans to establish a branch office of the Welfare Federation regional planning staff, and for the Family Services Association, which began immediate plans to make family counseling services available in Geauga County. 

On April 26, 1963 the Geauga County Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Health and Welfare voted unanimously to enter into a permanent agreement with the Community Chest of Greater Cleveland and the Welfare Federation with some modification and clarification of certain clauses in the agreement.   

On May 13, of 1963 a special meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Community Chest of Greater Cleveland was called to order in the Red Feather Room, after the president read a letter from Ward A. Lawrence regarding the Geauga committee’s vote to request a permanent affiliation and a report from Mr. Morrison that the Welfare Federation Trustees had already approved such a step.  By unanimous vote, the Chest Trustees took official action to include Geauga County as a part of the area of the Cleveland Community Chest.  

The first office was a rented house on the corner of Route 44 and 322 a few miles south of Chardon, which housed the Family Services Association office and the Geauga Welfare Federation office.  Thus, the creation of United Way Services of Geauga County was born.