Centennial Celebrating the 1980s




As we celebrate our Centennial year, we continue to highlight the role United Way of San Diego County has played in our region throughout our history. This month, we want to focus on the 1980s, a decade when San Diego grew in size, economy, and national prominence.

Prior to the 1980s, the President of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce had referred to the city as “a stool with one leg—the military.” That changed rapidly throughout the decade as the economy grew and diversified. New industries resulted in 300,000 new jobs, and these new jobs attracted new workers, leading to a significant increase in the population. The city officially reached 1.1 million residents in the 80s, making it the sixth largest city in the country at the time.

As a result of the increasing population and budget cuts from the federal government, homelessness became more visible in San Diego at the time. United Way of San Diego County responded by launching the Regional Task Force for the Homeless, in partnership with both the city and the county. The Regional Task Force for the Homeless has grown and is still in operation today. In fact, they are tenants of United Way of San Diego County’s building in Kearny Mesa, which was purchased in the 1980s as well.

Generous donors and the help of a financial consortium made the purchase of the Kearny Mesa building possible. The building is still the primary workplace for UWSD employees, and it is a great example of the way UWSD supports our community by partnering with other nonprofit organizations. Additional office space is rented out to other nonprofit organizations at below-market rates. As of this year, our current tenants include the Autism Society San Diego, Susan G. Komen San Diego, Regional Task Force for the Homeless, San Diego Psychological Association, Dreams for Change, Lupus Foundation of San Diego, HandsOn San Diego, and Wave Academy.

As you can see, United Way of San Diego County has adapted to the changing needs of our community over the years and we will continue to do so. This year has brought a number of changes, and we will continue to draw from the example of our history and find ways to adapt so that we can serve and strengthen our community’s most pressing needs.

Save the date for Thursday, October 8th, 2020 and join us for our Virtual Centennial Celebration! Learn more about UWSD’s Centennial and visit uwsd.org/centennial.