Our History:

  • 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.

  • 1953: Formally incorporated as Owatonna Community Chest.

  • 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 Owatonna and Steele County.

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

  • 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.

  • 1974: The Owatonna Community Chest becomes United Way of Steele County.

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

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

  • 2016: 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, the UWSC surpassed its goal of $700,000. Raising over $703,000 & exceeding the $700k-mark for the first time since the 2011 campaign.

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

  • 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)

Our Community Campaign Leaders (Prior 10 Years):

2023 - Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
2022 - Viracon Inc
2021 - Steele County Free Fair
2020 - Wenger Corp
2019 - AmesburyTruth
2018 - Owatonna Healthcare Campus (Allina Health - Owatonna, Benedictine Living Community, Mayo Clinic Health System)
2017 - Federated Insurance
2016 - Gopher Sport
2015 - NAPA Distribution Center
2014 - ISD761 Owatonna Public Schools, Mayo Clinic Health System, and Steele County Public Health