For 50 Years, John Blum Said ‘Thanks’ by Giving to the United Way

United Way of Greater New Haven recently had the opportunity to talk with John Blum, professor emeritus of history, who has been donating to the organization for 50 years and counting.

Blum, 87, says that donating to the United Way is his way of saying “thank you” to the community where he has lived and worked since 1957.

After graduating from Harvard at age 22, Blum served in the Navy until the end of World War II. He taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for 10 years before coming to Yale in 1957. He has been donating to United Way of Greater New Haven ever since.

His students, colleagues and the Yale community as a whole have always understood the importance of giving, says Blum. “The students at Yale give a tremendous amount. They have a sense of community responsibility and public service.” A specialist in 20th-century American politics, Blum says he was especially proud of Yale’s participation in the 1960s civil rights movement, and most recently, the outpouring of support for President-elect Barack Obama.

Blum believes it is vital to support one’s community and help make a difference through volunteering, advocating for a cause or donating to public service organizations.

“I choose to give to United Way because they understand my community’s needs, and they work with local organizations that are best qualified to meet those needs,” he says.

United Way is working to raise awareness about the immediate needs of the local community, especially during these challenging financial times, and to provide leadership in addressing these needs.

“With winter nearly upon us, the need for housing, food and warmth is increasing each day in greater New Haven,” says Jack Healy, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater New Haven. “With government budgets being cut, companies laying off workers, and shelters and food pantries struggling to keep up, our neighbors need our help.

“Thanks to dedicated donors like Dr. Blum who understand that giving to United Way increases the power and reach of their gift because it is combined with the gifts of many others, United Way of Greater New Haven is able to help those who need it right now and also invest in education, income and health for a better future,” adds Healy.

Blum noted, “There is a bond between Yale and the greater New Haven community that goes back many years. Helping and serving is a fundamental characteristic of the Yale community. I have chosen to express that by giving to United Way.”

The 2008 Yale United Way campaign is scheduled to end soon. To find out more about how you can join the effort to help people and to improve the community, visit

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