Volunteers of America
, based in Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...
, is a national, nonprofit, faith-based human services organization providing support programs to more than two million people throughout the United States each year. The organization includes 38 local offices that provide services to clients in approximately 400 communities in 44 states and Puerto Rico.
Through hundreds of programs, the organization focuses on a diverse variety of service areas that include affordable housing, seniors, children and families, the homeless, veterans, those with intellectual disabilities, substance abuse treatment and the incarcerated.
Volunteers of America is ranked among the largest charities in the United States by The NonProfit Times
The NonProfit Times is a newspaper based in Morris Plains, New Jersey, covering the business management of non-profit organizations in the United States. The first issue was published in April 1987. The newspaper covers fundraising, accounting, managerial issues and human resource management...
, The Chronicle of Philanthropy
The Chronicle of Philanthropy is a biweekly newspaper that covers the nonprofit world. Based in Washington, DC, it is the top news source for charity leaders, foundation executives, fund raisers, and other people involved in philanthropy...
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...
among other publications, with annual revenue of approximately $900 million in 2008.
Volunteers of America was founded in 1896 by social reformers Ballington Booth
Ballington Booth was an Officer in The Salvation Army and a co-founder of Volunteers of America.Born in Brighouse, England, Ballington Booth was the second child of William and Catherine Booth, founders of The Salvation Army in 1878...
and his wife and Maud Booth. Ballington Booth was the son of General
thumbnail|left|1st General, William BoothGeneral is the title of the international leader of The Salvation Army, a Christian denomination with extensive charitable social services that gives quasi-military rank to its ministers .Usage of the term General began with the Founder of The Salvation...
William Booth was a British Methodist preacher who founded The Salvation Army and became its first General...
, founder of The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian church known for its thrift stores and charity work. It is an international movement that currently works in over a hundred countries....
, and the couple served as officers
An Officer in The Salvation Army is a Salvationist who is in essence a minister of the Christian faith, but who fulfills many other roles not usually fulfilled by clergy of other denominations...
with the Army in Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...
The Booths first moved to New York in the 1890s to assume command of The Salvation Army forces in the United States. The couple was successful in bolstering the image of The Salvation Army in America and in growing the movement’s social work mission. After disagreements with other Salvation Army leaders, including Ballington Booth’s brother Bramwell Booth
Bramwell Booth, CH was the first Chief of Staff and the second General of The Salvation Army , succeeding his father, William Booth.-Biography:...
, the Booths left the organization and established God’s American Volunteers, which soon was changed to Volunteers of America.
In the early 1900s, the Volunteers moved into tenement districts in New York and other large cities to care for people in poverty. They organized day nurseries and summer camps, provided housing for single men and women, and established the nation’s first system of halfway houses for released prisoners. During the advent of the Great Depression in the 1930s, Volunteers of America mobilized to assist the millions of people who were unemployed, hungry and homeless. Relief efforts included employment bureaus, wood yards, soup kitchens and “Penny Pantries” where every food item cost one cent.
By the 1960s, Volunteers of America was well-known for its thrift stores and annual fundraising efforts like the Sidewalk Santa campaign in New York City. In an effort to modernize its programs, the organization began to focus its work in the area of housing for the poor following the establishment of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In the 1970s, the organization emerged as a major provider of professional long-term nursing care. Volunteers of America not only offers home health care and related services, but owns and operates several nursing facilities, and assisted and independent living residences.
Today, Volunteers of America has grown to be one of the largest nonprofit providers of affordable housing for the elderly, low-income families and people with intellectual or physical disabilities in the United States.
Origin of the name 'Volunteers of America'
When Volunteers of America was founded in 1896, volunteerism in the modern sense of the word did not exist. To “volunteer” at that time meant serving others as a full-time vocation. Early members of the organization came to call themselves the “Volunteers of America” because they volunteered their lives to help people in need in the U.S. This included not only volunteering their time, but also their hearts, their spirits and their professional prosperity.
Volunteers of America administers a diverse number of services for people in need, including low-income seniors, families and children, veterans, the homeless, those with intellectual disabilities, the incarcerated, and people recovering from substance abuse. These services are tailored specifically to the needs of the local communities where Volunteers of America works and can vary widely from city to city. Not all services are available in all locations, and Volunteers of America local offices, which are individually incorporated, assess local needs and tailor programs accordingly.
Aging and Seniors
Care for seniors has been a part of Volunteers of America’s mission since the 1890s. The organization is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit providers of affordable housing for seniors and a major provider of professional long-term care, including assisted living, home health care and nursing home care. Support services include senior centers, transportation, intergenerational programs, information and referral services, protective services, Meals On Wheels programs and handyman repair services.
In 2008, Volunteers of America launched the “Aging with Options” initiative focused on improving access to home and community-based services to older people. Components of Aging with Options include community engagement programs, home and community-based services, and Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly
Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly programs provide comprehensive health services for individuals age 55 and over who are sufficiently frail to be categorized as "nursing home eligible" by their state's Medicaid program...
Volunteers of America is one of the largest nonprofit developers and providers of affordable housing in the United States, with more than 320 affordable housing properties in 38 states and Puerto Rico. The organization owns and/or manages more than 16,000 affordable housing units that provide homes to nearly 25,000 people each year.
In addition, Volunteers of America is one of the largest nonprofit providers of affordable senior housing, including skilled nursing care and assisted living for seniors. The organization is the largest nonprofit recipient of funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to build housing for seniors and the disabled.
Affordable Housing Finance
magazine rates Volunteers of America as the top nonprofit in its “Top 50 Affordable Housing Owners,” and also ranked the organization in the “Top 50 Affordable Housing Developers” and “Top 10 Companies Completing Acquisitions.” The magazine also selected a Volunteers of America multifamily community, Lord Tennyson outside San Francisco, as the “best of the best” affordable housing project in the country for 2007.
Volunteers of America is a national provider of shelter and services for homeless people, ranging from emergency shelters to transitional housing and placement in permanent homes. As one of the largest recipients of federal homeless assistance grants, Volunteers of America reaches out to homeless people in many cities through street outreach and mobile outreach services. The organization also provides services to help the formerly homeless return to self-sufficiency — providing assistance that ranges from paying a first month’s rent to offering permanent supportive housing, empowering people with disabilities to become stable and productive members of their communities.
In 2008, Volunteers of America served more than 9,000 homeless veterans in 35 programs nationwide. Services offered by the organization for homeless veterans include service centers, transitional housing, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and employment training.
Volunteers of America was the leading recipient of grants from U.S. Department of Labor’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program in June 2009. The grants will be used to provide education and job training to homeless veterans. Volunteers of America offices in several cities also organize local “Stand Down” events with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs aimed at helping homeless veterans to access housing and services.
Children, Youth & Families
Volunteers of America provides a variety of services, which vary widely from one local office to another, for disadvantaged and disconnected children and youth. These programs are aimed at developing the social, emotional and academic development of young children, and empowering older youth to be physically, emotionally and mentally healthy, preparing them for adulthood.
Volunteers of America provides child care, Head Start and early literacy programs to help young children get a bright start. The organization serves school-age children by providing before and after school programs, summer camps and mentoring. Programming for older youth includes leadership development, job training and pregnancy prevention.
Volunteers of America is focusing on family preservation programs through its 2009 Look Up and Hope initiative to help strengthen families. Focus is placed on teaching parenting skills, coping techniques, connecting families to a range for services and providing respite. Delinquency prevention programs are also provided for youth who show early signs of problem behaviors. Some Volunteers of America local offices provide group homes for children in the foster care system, residential treatment for youth with substance abuse and mental health disorders, and transitional housing and services for youth who are homeless or aging out of the foster care system. Volunteers of America also has several programs across the country for children of the incarcerated. These mentoring programs provide positive support for the child, the incarcerated parent and the caregiver.
Volunteers of America serves thousands of individuals with disabilities across the nation with specialized programs for mental retardation, autism, age-related problems and other challenges. Services include in-home support, case management, day programs and supportive employment, specialized residential services and supported living.
Full-time residential settings for people with intellectual disabilities range from single-person apartment settings to group homes, which primarily serve three or four people in a home. All of these homes are located in communities, close to family members and friends. Each supportive living residence is licensed and certified through state agencies and operates under Medicaid guidelines.
Volunteers of America also provides in-home support services to children and adults who live with their families, as well as to adults who live independently. These services are ongoing and are delivered according to individual support plans. Recreational outings, assistance with personal care, money management and employment are among the services offered adults through in-home support services.
Substance Abuse Treatment
Volunteers of America is a leader in treating substance abuse and addiction, and offers a variety of support services and residential treatment options to assist adolescents, adults and their families to overcome addiction. Services, which vary by city and local office, include detoxification, intensive outpatient services and residential treatment.
Organizational Structure and Local Offices
Volunteers of America has more than 16,000 paid employees. The majority of these staff members are trained professionals who provide direct services to clients. The organization includes a national office located in Alexandria, Va., and 38 locally operated offices. This decentralized structure allows Volunteers of America to tailor its programs to the individual needs of local communities.
List of Volunteers of America local offices
- Volunteers of America, Dakotas (based in Sioux Falls, SD)
- Volunteers of America of Illinois (based in Chicago, IL)
- Volunteers of America of Indiana (based in Indianapolis, IN)
- Volunteers of America Michigan (based in Southfield, MI)
- Volunteers of America of Minnesota (based in Minneapolis, MN)
- Volunteers of America Nebraska (based in Lewellen, NE)
- Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio (based in Columbus, OH)
- Volunteers of America of Northwest Ohio (based in Toledo, OH)
- Volunteers of America Ohio River Valley (based in Cincinnati, OH)
- Volunteers of America Wisconsin (based in Milwaukee, WI)
- Volunteers of America North Alabama (based in Huntsville, AL)
- Volunteers of America Southeast (based in Mobile, AL)
- Volunteers of America of Florida (based in Tampa, FL)
- Volunteers of America of Kentucky (based in Louisville, KY)
- Volunteers of America Greater Baton Rouge (based in Baton Rouge, LA)
- Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans (based in New Orleans, LA)
- Volunteers of America of North & Central Louisiana (based in Shreveport, LA)
- Volunteers of America of the Carolinas (based in Columbia, SC)
- Volunteers of America of Oklahoma (based in Tulsa, OK)
- Volunteers of America Texas (based in Euless, TX)
Major League Baseball Players Association’s Players Trust
Since 2002, Volunteers of America has partnered with the Major League Baseball Players Trust http://mlbplayers.mlb.com/pa/trust/about.jsp
, the philanthropic arm of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Starting in 2003, the central focus of this partnership has been the Action Teams program, a national youth volunteer initiative to motivate high school students to organize community service projects and enlist fellow students to volunteer.
As of 2009, 19,000 high school volunteers have helped more than 90,000 people in their communities as part of the Action Team program. Teens work through their local school districts to recruit other teens to volunteer in projects developed by Volunteers of America’s local offices.
Other elements of the partnership include funding for Volunteers of America programs, as well as hands-on support and public appearances by players to raise awareness for issues affecting children and families. Players also participate in Volunteers of America’s national and local public service announcements urging the public to volunteer for charitable causes in their communities.
The partnership has helped to provide direct services to Volunteers of America local offices such as affordable day care, safe playground equipment, dental and health services, and before- and after-school programs for thousands of children, as well as short-term assistance and long-term support for rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Region following Hurricane Katrina.
Since 1999, Volunteers of America has participated as a national partner in the Scholastic Book Grants program, distributing over 1,833,000 books throughout 27 states.
As part of this partnership, Volunteers of America and Scholastic created Words Travel, the first national literacy and family strengthening program for incarcerated parents and their children. The mission of the program is to connect incarcerated parents with their children through reading books. Volunteers of America local offices partnered with several correctional facilities to distribute new Scholastic books to children visiting their incarcerated parents. The books were given out during the children's visits, allowing parents to spend quality time with their children.