A letter from Your Executive Director
2015 marks the 60th Anniversary of the United Way of Northeast Michigan. It hasn’t always been known at the United Way of Northeast Michigan, that name came about in 1985. In 1955, it was known as United Fund of Alpena or Red Feather. Some years later, it was named the Alpena County United Way and then to the current name.
If you think back, a lot has changed since 1955. The biggest change that I see is the technology world. The world of computers, tablets and cell phones. Who would have thought that we would be wrapped around a 3” x 5” handheld device? I remember how excited I was when the United Way received our first computer, which was donated by the Besser Company. Remember floppy disks that is what we used. With a 13” screen. Does anyone us floppy’s anymore? Another change is in the transportation world. Did you know that the 1950s cars were some of the most classic, powerful and unsafe cars ever driven. The modern designs and acceleration abilities were getting more and more amazing every year. Vehicles are now streamline and the technology they are equipped with is amazing and of course they are much safer with the installation of airbags. Employment in our country over the years is forever changing. The labor force participation rate of men has been decreasing since the 1950s, having registered 86.4 percent in 1950, 79.7 percent in 1970, 76.4 percent in 1990, and 73.3 percent in 2005. This decline has resulted from various factors. For example, the Social Security Act was amended in 1960 to make individuals under 50 years of age eligible for disability payments. The decline in the men’s labor force participation rate is expected to continue; it is projected to be 70 percent in 2020 and 66 percent in 2050.Women’s labor force participation, which was at a rate of 33.9 percent in 1950, increased significantly during the 1970s and 1980s, climbing to 57.5 percent in 1990. In 1999, the women’s participation rate reached a peak of 60 percent. By 2000, however, this rate had declined slightly to 59.9 percent, and since then it has been displaying a pattern of slow decline in each successive period, falling to 59.3 percent in 2005. The participation rate of women is projected to be 59.4 percent in 2020 and 55.1 percent in 2050.*
But despite these changes and new stresses placed on us, we still find time to join together to make northeast Michigan a great place to live, work and play. People in Alcona, Alpena and Montmorency counties have always placed a high value on being community centered and willing to help their family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.
Every day, the United Way and the community supported agencies touch people’s lives! They touch individuals just like you and me who try, sometimes fail, and sometimes just need help and encouragement. Can the United Way and the supported agencies solve all the problems – NO. No one can, but I know from personal, first-hand experience from PEOPLE helped by the United Way and our community agencies’ services that we do make a difference, right here, in northeast Michigan. I also know that in my 30 years with the United Way Alcona, Alpena and Montmorency Counties have been better for all of us because of the services provided you YOUR donated dollars to the United Way of Northeast Michigan – and that’s what it means to LIVE UNITED.
On behalf of the thousands of contributors, volunteers, businesses and organization that have supported the United Way over the years, I commend you. You have made it possible for us today, as a caring community to continue the works of the United Way. This is your United Way, and we rely on and welcome your involvement, support and guidance as we continue to unite people in caring about our community.
*This information is from the Employment Projections program. Find out more in "A new look at long-term labor force projections to 2050," by Mitra Toossi, Monthly Labor Review, November 2006.