United Way of Franklin County History
Before there was a United Way of Franklin County, there was a Franklin County Communities
Council, formed in 1987 by a group of residents concerned about growing needs in our
community that needed to be addressed.
In 1988, Phil Harsh, who lived in Franklin County, but worked for Westinghouse at Fernald,
Ohio, discovered that he could give to the United Way of Hamilton County through payroll
deduction and have his donated dollars designated to be sent to Franklin County. Phil and other
employees were generous enough to do just that. The Communities Council opened an account
to receive these funds and began earnestly studying the best way to distribute them for the good
of the whole county. Franklin County employees, who worked at other companies, soon
discovered that they, too, could have their United Way payroll deductions sent home and more
and more people were helped.
In May of 1990, the Council started the process of becoming the United Way of
Franklin County, Inc. with $1,500.00 in the account and the guarantee of funds from the
Eli Lilly Foundation that would pay for a part-time director, office space, phone, etc. The first
Board of Directors was chosen. They were Robert Sudbrook, President; Pat Esterman, Vice
President; Donald Jobe, Second Vice President; Peggy Race, Treasurer; Anita Ratz, Secretary;
Joyce Back, Ruth Banning, Dave Cook, Roy Hall, Dave Johnson, Marilyn Johnson, Joy
Kirschner, Earl Moore, Mark Munchell, Kathy Placke, Alberta Sauerland, Reverend Louis
Schumacher, Mike Sorrells, Marilyn Wendel, and Mel Wilhelm.
They used the same process we use today, with each director elected to serve a three-year term.
They were wise enough to choose from among themselves to be sure that some served longer
first terms, so everyone would not be going off the board at the same time. They also had, as we
do today, a system where a director may be asked to serve another three-year term.
In August of 1990, letters were received from Franklin County 4-H, Dollars for Scholars, Senior
Citizens, Mother-Baby Care, Emergency Medical Services, Boy Scouts and the WATCH Center
stating they would like to be recipients of United Way funds.
United Way of Franklin County has had several Executive Directors throughout the years. The
original director was Brent Bill. He was succeeded by Mary Pat Vonder Meulen, Kim Linkel,
Carla Hertel, Carol Russell, Yvonne Brandes and Kelly Bulmer is the current Executive Director and has been since 2013.