History of United Way of Kosciusko County

A special meeting of the Warsaw Chamber of Commerce was held at the Lake City Bank on January 22, 1958 to discuss the organization of a United Fund. A special representative from the United Fund was there to explain how the drive is set up and how it operates.

Mr. Blaine Mikesell of Warsaw gave a report on the different drives, how much money is raised each year and the goal. The first order of business is to become incorporated and set an organizational meeting.

Election of officers took place on February 5, 1958 with the following named:

  • President Robert Ellison
  • Vice President Blaine Mikesell
  • Secretary John Widaman, Jr.
  • Treasurer Fred Stephens

It was explained by Bob Ellison that the purpose of organizing a United Fund was to eliminate multiple drives by all organizations which also seemed to involve a duplication of leaders each time.

Bob traveled throughout Kosciusko County and talked to service organizations and was met with an enthusiastic response.

The first year goal was set at $74,661.71 which was set higher than was needed by the agencies. The goal was not met that year, but each agency was given 100% of its request and it was felt that the first drive was a successful one. James W. McCleary of Warsaw was the first campaign chairman.

The second year, Earl Records was named president. Mr. Records was transferred shortly thereafter and Mr. Ellison, agreed to take the position of president for the second year.

From its very beginning there has been a county-wide board distribution of support and according to Mr. Ellison, it took many, many people who worked tirelessly to bring this organization into being.

The United Way campaigns were conducted by professional fund raisers in the early years. A part-time secretary was hired to maintain office records.

Many community leaders have actively participated in United Way since 1958. In the late 1970's Larry Castaldi organized and became the first president of United Way of Indiana. This organization was founded to unite the efforts of all Indiana county United Ways and work for legislation for the good of all not-for-profit agencies in state government. In his name, the Castaldi Award for the state's most outstanding volunteer is given each year by the United Way of Indiana (now IaUW). Mr. Castaldi also served the local United Way as president and chairman of the board.

Beginning in 1978, the campaigns were organized and conducted locally by the United Way staff and volunteers.

History of the Indiana Association of United Ways

Leaders from United Ways across Indiana met in 1978 and agreed to form a state association, United Way of Indiana (UWI, renamed in 1992 to the Indiana Association of United Ways). Lawrence Castaldi served the association as their first board chairman.

Lawrence Castaldi was a businessman and civic leader in Warsaw, Indiana, leading such efforts as the Chamber of Commerce, Kosciusko Community Hospital, Grace College, the Bowen Mental Health Center, and the United Way of Kosciusko County. Castaldi led the Indiana Association of United Ways for its first three years and served on its board until his death in 1985.

Castaldi tirelessly visited United Ways, securing their participation in the new state association. He helped secure a start-up grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. of Indianapolis. The grant allowed the Association to establish an office with part-time staff. Support was garnered from membership dues by United Ways affiliating with the State Association.

Castaldi's belief in United Way and his unflagging determination to mobilize that community building power to address statewide issues provided the visionary leadership which gave the Association its strong foundation.

Upon Castaldi's retirement as board chairman in 1980, the Association presented him with its first award, recognizing the invaluable contribution he had made to the United Way movement in Indiana. They named the award in his honor, as a lasting tribute to his undaunting spirit of voluntarism, the same spirit which the Association salutes today through the Castaldi Award.

This award is presented to a volunteer or professional who has given personal, passionate, and persevering service to Indiana United Ways.

Give. Advocate. Volunteer.

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