United Way of Richland County 100 year logo

United Way of Richland County celebrated its 100th anniversary and annual kickoff Tuesday. The non-profit's predecessor organization, Community Chest of Mansfield, was funded in 1920.

MANSFIELD – For over 100 years, the United Way of Richland County—previously the Community Chest of Mansfield—has fought for the health, education and financial stability of every person in the local community. In 2020, a global pandemic presented never-before-seen challenges to meet their goals.

“As the ripples of this pandemic became apparent, we knew, as an organization, we would have to do even more to support our community,” said Dan Varn, executive director of United Way of Richland County. 

They were tremendously thankful, though not surprised, by the community’s generous, immediate response to COVID-19. “We continued to be awed by the generosity of our community and the desire of so many to work together, to help out in any way possible,” Varn said.

Donated funds entrusted to United Way are always guaranteed to be invested wisely in programs county-wide. They will help to facilitate programs and services in 15 partner organizations and beyond.

“Our volunteer allocations teams review fundraising requests, conduct program site visits, evaluate program outcomes and ensure community needs are being met,” Varn said. “We monitor all dollars granted, year round, to ensure your dollars are impacting our community.”

Rising to the challenging times, United Way first acted by guaranteeing their funded partners the same grants they received in 2019. Then, they released additional funds to bolster the rent, mortgage and utility relief funds at Catholic Charities, Salvation Army and the Independent Living Center.

“We granted additional funds to the United Fund of Shelby and Clear Fork Valley foundation and asked them to distribute those funds to those in need throughout their communities,” Varn said. “We reached out to out-of-work individuals in the service industry and were able to support them as they provided meals to the students of the Mansfield City Schools.”

After working to address the most immediate needs of the local community, United Way looked to aid other support programs. They partnered with the Mental Health Board to promote the importance of mental health during these challenging times and facilitated multiple summer camps in neighborhoods throughout Mansfield.

Looking to 2021, the United Way of Richland County plans to continue doing what they have been doing and always have done: meeting the needs of the community by funding partner agencies. They will help the community work its way back while supporting their partner agencies, who are on the front lines of this pandemic.

Along with their partners and community stakeholders, the organization has constructed a plan to respond not only to the immediate needs but also to long-term damages as a result of the pandemic crisis. They will ensure all efforts are in harmony with local, statewide and national efforts so measures taken are unduplicated and will positively affect as many local residents as possible.

The United Way of Richland County will never stop fighting for their community in every way they can. “We will continue to find the most innovative of solutions to ensure that every Richland County resident is supported,” Varn said.

“The challenges we face are certainly daunting, but it is our firm belief that we will pull together to overcome this challenge as we have so many before,” Varn said. “We are here for you, Richland County, now and for the future.”

You can support the United Way of Richland County, as they support our community, by donating here this giving season.

This article was paid for by the nonprofit organization mentioned. Leading up to Giving Tuesday on December 1, we will feature profiles on various local nonprofits. Read all the stories here.