The History of the United Way of Northern Cameron County

A community service organization known as “The Community Chest” was first established in Harlingen during the mid 40’s. In 1952, this organization was renamed as The United Fund. Its birth was supported by the local leaders and the first year was one of developing its concept and purpose to aid the less fortunate citizens of the community. One year later, 1953, Frances Hury was approached and asked to serve as the Secretary of the United Fund with a Board and a Budget Committee. They proposed a potential goal of $65,000.00. On March 6, 1980 fourteen Board of Trustees met at the Central Power and Light Building with Frank Hardin as president. It was on that date that the United Fund Board voted to include their neighboring towns of San Benito, La Feria, Combes, Rio Hondo, Primera and Santa Rosa. In 1980, another name change, to the United Way of Harlingen in order to extend the agencies’ services to the new defined territory. With the expansion of these services, more money was necessary, thus setting that year’s goal to $150,697.00.

Our United Way would continue to meet on a regular basis in such community places as the First Presbyterian Church, Central Power and Light Company, First National Bank and later met at the Harlingen Water Works System Building. The office of our United Way also had its growing pains. Frances, now the Executive Secretary, can still remember a space the size of a closet that the Harlingen Water Works converted into an office for her operation. With board approval, the Harlingen Waterworks continued to make office space available for the United Way with each of their moves over many years.

In 1986 another name change was established, now the United Way of Harlingen-San Benito which was effective for about ten years. Then in 1997 the charter name changed again to The United Way of Northern Cameron County and Frances was then named the Executive Director.

Frances Hury, after giving 46 years of unselfish service and dedication retired in November, 1999. Her assistant, co-worker and right hand person, Corliss Schoenemann, also retired after 20 years of service with The United Way Of Northern Cameron County, which to this day still offices in the Harlingen Water Works System Building.