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 “The United Fund.” Its birth was supported by local business leaders with the first year being one of developing its concept and purpose to aid the less fortunate citizens in the community. In 1953, Frances Hury was asked to serve as Secretary of the United Fund with a Board and Budget Committee. They proposed their first goal of $65,000. This goal was met and continued to rise to provide funding for worthy Community Partners. In 1980, the board voted to include neighboring towns of San Benito, La Feria, Combes, Rio Hondo, Primera, and Santa Rosa to its service area. United Fund’s name was then changed to the United Way of Harlingen in order to extend the agencies’ services to the newly defined territory. In 1997 the charter name was changed to the United Way of Northern Cameron County and Frances Hury was named Executive Director and the territory now included Willacy County. After 46 years of unselfish service and dedications, Frances Hury retired in November 1999. During the Centennial Celebration of Harlingen, The Harlingen Walk of Fame was unveiled and Frances Hury was among the 100 most influential citizens placed on the Walk of Fame.
In the early years, United Way met in community places such as the First Presbyterian Church, Central Power and Light Company and First National Bank. The Harlingen Waterworks System offered space for the organization in the 1980’s, from closet size space to converted office space, the organization remained under the roof of the Waterworks building until December 2016. Generous donors made it possible for United Way to purchase one of the last original Lon C. Hill Township homes in the Downtown area. The home was built in 1923 and with a little TLC, United Way will have of home for years to come.
United Way of Northern Cameron County is a volunteer-led nonprofit organization serving the communities in Northern Cameron and Willacy Counties. United Way has a staff two of an Executive Director and an assistant. In the 65 years of United Way only 3 Executive Directors have been named. Currently Jessica Belschner serves as Executive Director and Kathy Preddy as Resource Development Director.