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United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties celebrates 100 years of service

United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties officials at the organization's 100th Year Kickoff celebration on May 8, 2
United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties officials at the organization’s 100th Year Kickoff celebration on May 8, 2019. Shown from left: Stu Mullins, Susie Poulton, Jan Jensen, Sue Dvorsky, Mark Nolte, Bob Dvorsky, Sarah Krumm and Tim Krumm. (Photo courtesy of United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties)

IOWA CITY — United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties is reaching its 100th anniversary this year, culminating its 100 years of service with a celebration this month called “Cheers to 100 Years.”

“We’re kind of overwhelmed by how long this has been going on and how we’re at this moment, here in 2020, able to do things in the community because of what others before us,” said Tim Krumm, United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties 100th Year Celebration co-chair. “We really wanted to honor that and celebrate that and have some fun along the way.”

The organization was founded in 1919 as the Social Service League United Welfare Drive. The name changed several times over the next century, and eventually became the United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties in 2014.

But the mission has largely remained the same, officials said.

“It’s really quite impressive that at United Way in Iowa City, in the size of our town, came together 100 years ago,” said Katie Knight, president and CEO. “A lot of the larger United Way’s — so Houston, Minneapolis, St. Paul, even Cedar Rapids — have celebrated their 100th.”

United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties’s annual fundraising campaign supports 29 agencies that focus their efforts in addressing three community needs: education, financial stability and health.

“As a global network we feel that that’s the foundation for a good life if you have access to all three of those things,” Knight said.

Notable members of the agency over the years include Hayden Fry, Dan Gable and Dottie Ray, an Iowa City radio host who became the first woman to chair a campaign through the agency in the 1980s.

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United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties is one of roughly 1,200 local chapters throughout the country of United Way of America, which has its headquarters in Virginia. The nonprofit organization focuses on fundraising for community-based issues through partnerships with other agencies, such as schools, government offices, businesses and more.

The national organization — which initially was called the Charity Organization Society — was founded in Denver in 1887 by local religious leaders to coordinate services and fundraising, according to United Way’s website.

United Way estimates its organization impacts 61 million Americans a year, according to its website.

The 100-year celebration kicked off in May and continued for several months with events throughout Johnson and Washington counties.

The final celebration will be held Saturday at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, 300 E. Ninth St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets cost $50. They can be found on United Way’s website or at littlevillagetickets.com.

The event will include six “era themed rooms,” bringing guests back to the 1920s, 1950s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, according to officials. Experiences each room brings includes a Speakeasy from the 1920s, disco dancing from the 1970s and arcade games from the 1980s, among others.

Throughout this time travel experience, officials say there also will be a timeline taking guests through the years of United Way and its local impact.

Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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