Our History:

  • In 1946, the Chamber of Commerce sponsors the start of a Community Chest. Judge Axel Anderson served as the first President for the organization.  In the fall of that same year, the first campaign started with a goal of $13,400. They surpassed the goal by raising $14,165. The Owatonna Community Chest became incorporated in 1951.

  • In 1956, the Community Chest expanded its focus following a proposal brought forward by Emery Lindesmith, a school board member.  She felt that individual agency campaigns were causing a duplication of efforts & that combining into one larger-scale campaign would generate better results.  Thirteen agencies participated in this first year's expansion. The following year the campaign was renamed as the United Fund - one single fund campaign for Owatonnna and Steele County.

  • In both 1964 & 1965 the United Fund reached their goals in back-to-back years with totals raised now around $50,000.

  • In 1971, the United Fund became the United Way. A "new name for an old concept" - the idea that one pledge can work in so many ways.  The campaign chair that year, Chad Lange, announced the goal of $71,993.

  • In 1979, Walt Garner became the first official Executive Director for the United Way of Steele County - with a goal in 1980 of $175,000.

  • In 1995, the United Way of Steele County campaign raised over $500,000 for the first time. Under then Executive Director, Jonathan Zierdt.

  • In 2005 under Executive Director, Evelina Giobbe, the United Way of Steele County revised the Allocations for Funding process. This produced positive outcomes that forged the future for UWSC allocations such as increased agency accountability, increased donor accountability, and an increased ability for volunteers to make better informed and objective recommendations for funding. This also decreased the potential for conflicts of interest as well as a duplication of services.

  • In 2006, the UWSC campaign eclipsed $750,000 for the first time; with 2007's total reaching it's then record of $785,396 led by Owatonna Clinic.

  • In 2014 the United Way (contracted with Rainbow Research) released a Steele County Community Needs Assessment. Click here to view the report.

  • After serving for 12 years (the longest-serving UWSC Director) Evelina Giobbe retired in 2015.  Then Associate Director, Kim Schaufenbuel, was promoted to Executive Director.

  • Serving as the 8th UWSC Executive Director, Kim Schaufenbuel continued the United Way's commitment to helping those in need in Steele County.  During her sophomore year in 2016, the UWSC surpassed its goal of $700,000. Raising over $703,000 & exceeding the $700k-mark for the first time since the 2011 campaign.

  • In 2019, led by local manufacturer AmesburyTruth, the campaign broke the previous record set back in 2007; raising a record-breaking total of $786,045

  • In 2020, Kim Schaufenbuel announced her resignation.  Replacing Kim as the new UWSC President is Annette Duncan; former Executive Director for Exchange Club Center for Family Unity.  In Annette's first campaign as President, she led UWSC to raising it's #3 highest total in campaign history. ($779,201)