The roots of the local Centraide organization go back to 1946


Centraide has more than a fleeting knowledge of the board game Monopoly.

The treasure chest symbol used in Monopoly dates from 1936; Henderson’s Community Vault didn’t start until a decade later. And it wasn’t until 1955 that the organization became United Fund, which changed its name to United Way in 1975, according to the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.

The idea of ​​a combined fundraising campaign for several nonprofit organizations was another offshoot of the Henderson Town and County Committee, which had been organized on February 22, 1946 by 115 representatives of all organizations. civic, cultural and religious of the city. .

The city-county committee studied the idea for a while, then presented its findings – both pro and con – to the city’s nonprofits on July 16, 1946. It invited them to another meeting on July 25. , when he opened the meeting, but withdrew immediately once WG Schoepflin was elected temporary chairman by the nonprofits.

Most of the organizations in the city that conducted fundraisers said they were in favor of a community chest like the one used in other cities. The Red Cross, Infantile Paralysis Foundation and Tuberculosis Society, however, said their organizations’ national policies prevented them from participating in a united campaign.

“The organizations that approved the Community Chest plan were the YMCA, The Salvation Army, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Welfare Association, and Crippled Children’s organization,” according to The Gleaner of July 26, 1946.

Organizers then added the USO, the city’s summer recreation program and the supervised youth program to its list of beneficiaries. “This is the last call from the USO and it’s just as important to our serving boys now as the first one was five years ago,” said a big advertisement in The Gleaner on Oct. 27.

Funding for the USO was going to be problematic; more on that later.

It was a lot of work figuring out how much money needed to be raised and how to allocate it, given that the scale of this type of project had never been achieved here before. The goal eventually set was $ 38,320 and fundraising began on October 28, 1946.

RA Hughes, chairman of the organization’s board of directors, said in The Gleaner on Oct. 20 that a single fundraiser was far better than “several different fundraisers every month or so. I have worked on many drives for many different organizations and find that they take a lot of time on the part of the solicitation person and a lot of time on the business person contacted for funds.

“The businessman and housewife will be more inclined to donate to the fund knowing that they are going to be interrupted eight times less this year than they usually are.”

The large ad in The Gleaner on October 27 read, “It is estimated that four in ten families benefit from your contribution to Community Chest,” then described the work each agency does.

A kickoff breakfast was held on October 28, which raised over $ 5,700, according to The Gleaner on October 29. CA Dempewolf donated the best of those early contributors at $ 500.

As of November 6, according to The Gleaner, $ 29,753 had been raised, more than $ 8,500 below the target. This prompted the door to door part of the fundraiser.

The Gleaner on November 17 gave the final tally:

“The enthusiasm with which the Town of Henderson fostered the Henderson Community Chest (in) its first attempt at a cooperative fundraising campaign has been most convincingly demonstrated… with contributions totaling 45,560, $ 45….

“It was also proven, through oversubscribing, that people would contribute as much, if not more, to such workouts as to many individual workouts.”

The December 5 Gleaner reported that Henderson Community Chest had been incorporated, with SO Heilbronner as the resident agent, and the December 8 edition reported that Lillian H. Posey had been hired as a full-time executive secretary, with an office. on the second floor of Town Hall.

The latter article also noted that the amount collected continued to increase to $ 46,685.25.

But at the start of 1947, the organization had a bad time. The letter to the editor criticizing the Community Chest probably appeared in the Henderson Daily Journal – which is not microfilmed for this period – because I couldn’t find any evidence of it in The Gleaner.

But it must have been a doozy because it sparked a lengthy rebuttal from the Community Chest board, as well as an op-ed written by Gleaner editor Leigh Harris, who was on that board. Both were published in the January 23 edition. The author of the letter has not been identified.

The gist of the offending letter focused on USO funding and what the writer called dishonesty or, at the very least, a lack of restraint in administrative expenses, according to the editorial. These had been budgeted at $ 3,500 – more than the amounts given to about half of the agencies.

“A caustic response was written on asbestos – then torn up and in its place a very dignified and clarifying response prepared by the board and submitted for publication,” the editorial read.

The editorial went on to say that the accusations of extravagance were belied by the fact that the Community Chest office was operated with a borrowed typewriter. When it was no longer available, they bought a used one.

The letter, while misguided, may have done some good in demonstrating that the Henderson Community Vault was a “business on the move that will get things done and not leave the baby at nobody’s door.”

The Community Chest letter noted that the US military had asked the USO to continue operations, which is why it was funded. Regarding administrative expenses, “our estimate may have been high and, if so, it will be reduced when our first year experience shows the actual amount required. “

The Henderson Community Chest continued until 1955, when the United Fund began to operate – and organized the first telephone solicitation. It covered 22 agencies and introduced another new method of fundraising. George Rayburn at Spencer Chemical Co. and Frank Cusic at CBS Dress Co. were largely responsible for selling the idea of ​​asking workers to allow a $ 1 per month payroll deduction.

United Way of Henderson County currently serves 20 agencies and reached its goal of $ 500,000 in its last campaign.


Thirty women met at the Henderson Public Library to organize a Story Teller’s League, according to The Gleaner of October 26, 1921.

“Community service, through the social recreation service, sponsored the movement. Community Service’s Edna Meeker “listed many service opportunities the League would find.”


A four-page page had just appeared in L&N Magazine titled “Historic Henderson … Making History,” according to The Gleaner on October 24, 1971.

The article ended: “The town of Henderson is steeped in a distinguished history, but city planners today are actively engaged in preparing for its future. All the necessary resources are present and the enthusiasm for a bright future is great!

A 350 megawatt power plant was then being built by the town of Henderson to power the nearby Anaconda aluminum smelter, which was to create a variety of other industries.


The Gleaner of October 26, 1996 reported that “A Pictorial History of Henderson and Henderson County” had been completed after more than a year of work and was available for sale or early order withdrawal at the newspaper office.

The 160-page book featured photographs and illustrations from the 1880s to 1970s showing local scenes, events and people. It was a celebration of Henderson’s 200th birthday in 1997.

The project was a team effort at The Gleaner, but was led by Chuck and Donna Stinnett, who wanted to “celebrate two centuries of life in Henderson,” according to the introduction.

The community opened their photo albums and collections and, along with resources such as the Henderson County Public Library, the Henderson County Historical and Genealogical Society, and various private photo collections, over 1,200 photographs were collected. .

It was “twice as much as we could fit in this book,” according to the acknowledgments. “Frankly, we were overwhelmed. But we should have known that in a community with such a rich history as ours, we would be overwhelmed. “

According to The Gleaner of January 1, 1997, the first edition sold out and a second edition was ordered. Editor Steve Austin.

Due to the wealth of material collected and the treasures discovered, a second volume was published eight years later in the fall of 2004, adding an additional decade. The 1970s saw many industrial and commercial changes locally – as well as the destruction of various downtown landmarks.

Readers of The Gleaner can reach Frank Boyett at [email protected] or on Twitter at @BoyettFrank.

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