A number of things have reached the venerable 60-year mark: Frisbees. Sputnik. American Bandstand. The Cat in the Hat. And the United Way.

Director Sandra K. Phelps said the local branch, house since 1985 at 601 Broad Street, said the organization, which concentrates on helping other agencies find funding and in outreach, is celebrating in a quiet and unobtrusive way.

As always, she said, “We work with human services agencies, looking to improve their lot and (that of) the people they are working with.”

The United Way of Coastal Carolina services Craven, Carteret, Jones and Pamlico counties.

The United Way – then called United Fund – first opened locally in July, 1957, under executive director Louise R. Whitty when the articles of incorporation was founded.

In 1957 the agency supported such agencies as the Childrens Home Society of NC, the Florence Crittenden Home for Unwed Mothers and the Louise Bell Lunchroom Fund.

A 1958 fund raising flyer lists typical donations from United Way in its first years: the American Red Cross, Boy and Girl Scouts, and the USO. The donations it gave to each ranged from just over $10 (to the National Social Welfare Assembly) to $16,000 donated to the Salvation Army.

The first year’s fundraising goal was $64,948 of which $40,820 was successfully raised.

Among its founders was local historian, writer and Tryon Palace supporter Gertrude Carraway.

“Times have changed,” a news release from United Way of Coastal Carolina states, “community needs are different, the organization ahs grown and has a different name, but the motivating spirit of those United Fund founders remains the same—it improve the lives of the individuals and families who live in this community.”

Phelps said that 70 percent of the funds raised for United Way come through employee campaign funds. “Last year we raised about $460,000,” she said – quite a jump from 1957’s $65,000 goal. “This year we’re hoping to raise about $500,000.”

She said that, by her figuring, the local United Way has raised $18.5 million over its 60-year history.

Margaret Lamb, a volunteer with United Way of Coastal Carolina, said she can remember the United Fund decal that was in the front window of her home as a child. She recalled working at the Craven County Hospital: “Each year the hospital held a United Way rally, and each year I participated,” she said. She remembered volunteering to write letters to profssionals in the area in 1984, when future NC governor Beverly Perdue was director of geriatric services a the hospital and co-chair of the United Way.

Lamb continues to volunteer, with her effors spanning the tenures of four executive directors. “I have participated at races in Carteret Couty, softball tournaments with teams form local businesses, and painted and spruced upp agencies as needed,” she said.

“Through my volunteer tenure, I feel a sense of purpose and hope that through my efforts I am giving back to my community,” she said.

The 2017-18 campaign is chaired by Sabrina Bengel, Tharesa Lee and Carol Mattocks.

The United Way currently funds the following agencies:

Boy Scouts of America, Eastern Carolina Council; Boys and Girls Clubs in Coastal Carolina; Broad Street Clinic; Catholic Charities; Carteret County Domestic Violence Program; Coastal Pregnancy Center; Coastal Women’s Shelter; Craven Literacy Council; HOPE Clinic; Heartworks; Mediation Center of Eastern Carolina; Promise Place; Religious Community Services (RCS); and Reviving Lives Ministries.

For information on United Way call 252-637-2460.