History of Lake Area United Way

1969: The Honorable William J. Obermiller of East Chicago founded “United Drive”.  The goal was to unite seven separate fundraising groups into one. 

1971:  After the formation of the Lake Area United Appeal, Lyndon R. Milliken became the first executive director.  The new organization combined the Northwest Indiana United Fund and the United Calumet Community Chest.

1973:  Lake Area United Way (LAUW) was officially established.  Hammond businessman Julian Colby donated the current LAUW building located near the intersection of Cline Avenue and Ridge Road in Griffith, Indiana.  Mr. Colby’s generosity helped give LAUW its start.

2000:  The State of Indiana recognized LAUW’s superior performance and awarded the organization its prestigious Indiana Quality Improvement Award.  It is the highest honor given to Hoosier companies for continuous improvement.

2012:  Lake Area United Way  successfully completed and met all 20 Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana Standards for Charitable Accountability. 

2013:  Lake Area United Way named a 4-Star Charity by Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest charity watchdog evaluator.  The award recognized LAUW for its financial performance, accountability and transparency standards.

Today, LAUW is much more than just a fundraising or funds-distribution organization.  We are an organization that makes real community impact made possible by the support of an alliance of donors who want to positively affect community conditions before they become community problems. 

We work constantly to improve our level of service to the communities we serve.  By keeping our fingers on the pulse of this community’s most pressing health and human-service needs and monitoring our member agencies, LAUW assures individuals and companies that their donations are invested in top-performing programs and initiatives that produce positive results.

Lake Area United Way advances the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all.  Our focus is on education, income (financial stability) and health – the building blocks for a good quality of life.

To learn more about the history of United Way Worldwide, please click here 

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