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Jim Casey’s vision, legacy continue to serve children

“The destiny of all of us is, to a large extent, in the keeping of each of us.”

Those are the words of Jim Casey, who saw a need 50 years ago to prevent child abuse and neglect and strengthen vulnerable families to ensure that every child has the opportunities and support needed to succeed in life.

He was just a teenager himself in 1907 when he started what would become United Parcel Service in Seattle, but he understood throughout his life that every child deserved a safe and supportive family, and that every family needed a strong and caring community. His vision led him to create Casey Family Programs.

Jim Casey, born in 1888, was the eldest of four children. Their father died while they were young, and he dropped out of junior high to help his mother, Annie E. Casey, support the family. He started delivering packages by bicycle, borrowed $100 from a friend and launched American Messenger Company. That bicycle messenger service eventually grew into UPS, and he spent his working life revolutionizing package delivery and logistics across the globe.

As he hired, worked with and learned from his messenger boys, he observed that the strongest employees came from supportive families, and he drew on that experience to guide and inform the efforts of Casey Family Programs to provide and improve — and ultimately prevent the need for — foster care. He did not have children of his own, but he believed in the support of a caring family, and that eventually led him to launch the foundation. He believed that providing young people who needed it with a long-term, stable family setting and high-quality services would make a real difference in their ability to succeed at corporations like UPS, and even more importantly, in life itself.

As a successful businessman, Jim Casey realized that organizations must adapt as they learn what works and what doesn’t and that their goals should evolve. In that spirit, Casey Family Programs now works in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to support positive changes across the entire child welfare system and beyond to build Communities of Hope across the country.

Jim Casey remained engaged in both UPS and Casey Family Programs until he died in 1983 at the age of 95. At Casey Family Programs, he participated in quarterly board meetings over the years. He could be counted on to regularly ask one question: “How are the children doing?” It was similar to the question he asked his UPS drivers: “How are the deliveries going?” At Casey Family Programs, we seek to answer our founder’s question by helping to build a nation with supportive communities that nurture the safety, success and hope of every child.