Becoming the Heart of Florida: The 80s Era 

Eras Tour - the 80s

In honor of 85 years of impact here at Heart of Florida United Way, we are revisiting the history and milestones that led our organization to where we are today. Moving from our days as a Community Chest into the modern United Way organization, the 70s left us with a stronger brand presence and iconic new logo. But we were just getting started. 

The 1980s started strong for us here in Central Florida – we kicked off the decade with a $3.4 million campaign in 1980, and we exceeded our campaign goals each year after. Campaigns in the 80s were celebrated with kick-off events, themes, collateral, and celebratory dinners when the campaign concluded. The entire community rallied around the yearly campaign, raising these funds in a few short weeks in the fall. 

Dreaming Up New Campaign Ideas 

1986 was a particularly exciting campaign year – with over $6.8 million raised, our organization recognized the first million-dollar campaign to a United Way in Florida: Martin Marietta Orlando Aerospace, a company that would later merge with Lockheed Corporation to form Lockheed Martin. Martin Marietta and Walt Disney World teamed up this year by combining their talents for the campaign film, titled “Finding the Dream.” In true 80s fashion, the film starred EPCOT Center’s Dreamfinder and Figment and was directed by Michael Wells of Martin Marietta’s audio-visual department. The film was meant to give the community its own local campaign video and to tell the story of how the United Way agencies worked to help people in need in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties.


Publix was also quickly emerging as a lead corporate partner on a national scale – Mr. George Jenkins, Publix founder, was the first million-dollar roundtable member in the southeastern United States, and in 1987 he received the Alexis de Tocqueville award from United Way. Locally, Publix advertised our 1988 campaign on their shopping bags.

Old Logo

Forming the Heart of Florida United Way 

1988 marked a turning point for Central Florida as the United Ways of Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties officially merged to become one organization – the Heart of Florida United Way. Up until this point, the organizations had operated with multiple offices. This stronger, more efficient United Way allowed us to reach our highest increase in funds in 1989, and it allowed us to help one out of every three people in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties – just as we do today.

Celebrating 50 Years in 1989 

The 50th anniversary of Heart of Florida United Way marked a year of extraordinary growth for the organization. The 1989 Campaign netted the largest percent increase in our history at that point – 20.2% – which was the highest percent increase in the nation of comparably sized United Ways. Innovations such as computerization of some internal operations, more staff support, and our newly merged organization contributed to the great success in 1989. Walt Disney World rose to the top of the ranks with the largest employee group contribution of $1.3 million that year, out of a $9.8 million campaign total.  

Even with the grand successes the 80s held for the organization, there was plenty of innovation still to come.  

Eyes and Ears 1


All HFUW organizational information found in Annual Reports dated from 1980-1989.