In 1956, three years before Alaska statehood, Lucy Cuddy served as the first campaign chair of the new United Good Neighbor Fund. Mrs. Cuddy was then president of the First National Bank Alaska board. The United Good Neighbor Fund gathered community philanthropy to improve lives and build a stronger Anchorage for everyone. The first campaign raised $269,048, the equivalent of $2.5 million today. United Way of Anchorage — and its “Live United” — evolved from that early start. Mrs. Cuddy and her peers set a high bar for community philanthropy, and for me as this year’s campaign chair.
United Way brings together individuals, businesses, government and nonprofit organizations to address local needs by mobilizing the caring power of our community. The focus is on education, income and health — building blocks for a good quality of life. United Way identifies pressing issues and targets resources to areas of greatest need, including the needs of our city’s most vulnerable. United Way invests in effective programs and measures progress against agreed upon objectives. It provides unrestricted funds to nonprofit agency partners, allowing each agency to apply funds where they have the greatest impact. And we mobilize thousands of volunteers to help those in need.
Last year, United Way partnerships provided development activities to 15,000 youths, helped 3,293 neighbors become more financially self-sufficient, provided 14,000 community members with needed health services, and supported 102 at-risk students earn a high school diploma.
Deeply rooted community problems — achievement gaps, poverty and homelessness — require the time and talents of a broad range of individuals, businesses and organizations who are supporting this year’s campaign. Today, we are more than halfway toward our community fundraising goal of $6 million. I thank those who have already given and ask those who have not to consider doing so.
With your help, we can continue fighting to create lasting change that benefits numerous lives, makes our community stronger and leaves a positive, enduring inflection of hope in our society. Please join us. United Way’s approach — forging partnerships and mobilizing resources to develop sustainable solutions — is more valuable and more necessary than ever.
Adm. Tom Barrett, USCG (ret.), is president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. and United Way of Anchorage’s 2018 Campaign Chair.
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