On 70-year anniversary, renovation brings expanded service at United Way Denton County

written by Amber Gaudet | Denton Record-Chronicle

City and county leaders gathered Thursday to celebrate United Way of Denton County’s 70th anniversary, unveiling a renovated space that will allow the organization to better serve residents.

“In 1953, 16 people founded what would become United Way of Denton County as a means to use collaboration to support the social service fabric to serve the most vulnerable in our community,” said Marci Pritts, director of marketing for United Way. “It’s inspiring to know that collaboration continues today.”

Since the 1950s, the organization’s mission and reach have spread far beyond what those 16 founders could have imagined. United Way of Denton County has raised millions to aid locals, helping launch efforts to provide low-cost primary care, curb homelessness, provide behavioral health and tax preparation resources and establish a center for veterans.

The past seven decades have not been without hiccups. Just last December during a freeze, a pipe burst in United Way’s building, damaging 15,000 square feet, including the carpet, two feet of drywall and most of the furniture. But the accident became an opportunity.

A donation from United Way’s contractor allowed them to expand the community room — free for use by nonprofits and organizations throughout the county — and increased the capacity for group meetings. An interior wall was also added to create a designated lobby, where visitors can access free computers to connect with resources. The addition of a confidential client meeting room off the lobby gives staff a chance to speak more privately with vulnerable clients, and the building renovation allowed the organization to create more space for staff interns.

Nebraska Furniture Mart helped replace the desks and file cabinets that were damaged by the leak.

Denton County Judge Andy Eads, area chamber of commerce representatives and United Way partners, including Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas, were on site Thursday to celebrate the anniversary and open house. Eads announced during the event that Denton County surpassed the 1 million resident mark, showcasing the continued need for access to services for the area’s rising population. United Way of Denton County’s partners requested $1 million in their grant applications to serve residents, but the agency was only able to fund just over half, Pritts said.

Pritts said the organization needs to return to pre-pandemic fundraising levels, inviting local businesses to partner with United Way to host employee giving campaigns.

“Our ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) data shows that 102K households need help each month making ends meet,” Pritts said. “UWDC and our partners need to build on the foundation of the last 70 years to meet the growing demands in a rapidly growing county.”