It was founded in 1896 by two former officers of The Salvation Army, Ballington and Maud Booth, who envisioned a movement dedicated to “reaching and uplifting” the American people. On behalf of the organization, the Booths pledged to “go wherever we are needed, and do whatever comes to hand.”
The Early 1900s At the turn-of-the-century America, there was no shortage of work to do. The Volunteers moved into tenement districts 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.
The Depression The Great Depression of the 1930s stretched the nation's private social welfare system almost to the breaking point. 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.
Wartime Volunteers of America served on the home front during both world wars. The group operated canteens, overnight lodging and Sunday breakfasts for soldiers and sailors on leave. Affordable housing and child care were provided for defense industry workers. Further, Volunteers of America spearheaded community salvage drives during World War II, collecting millions of pounds of scrap metal, rubber and fiber for the war effort.
The 1960s Our special mission in housing dates to our organization's founding. Volunteers of America helped accelerate real estate development during the 1960s by taking part in numerous federal housing programs.
The 1970s In the 1970s, the organization emerged as a major provider of professional long-term nursing care. Today, 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.
2007 Now in its second century of service, Volunteers of America is one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive human services organizations, touching the lives of more than 2 million people each year in communities across the United States.
Volunteers of America focuses on the specific needs of communities across the U.S. The services are different in each community because each community has its own unique needs. The organization provides services and programs that help at-risk youth, the frail elderly, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, people with disabilities and those recovering from addictions.
Volunteers of America is one of the largest nonprofit providers of affordable housing for the elderly, low-income families and persons with mental or physical disabilities. The organization also provides assisted living and long-term care.
Volunteers of America Services and Programs
As of 2007, a professional staff of 15,000 and more than 140,000 volunteers help more than 2 million people through the following programs and services: Children and Youth Services: Volunteers of America encourages positive development for children, youth and their families. Programs include prevention, early intervention, crisis intervention and long-term services. Community Enhancement: Volunteers of America works to strengthen and enhance communities through a variety of programs including information and referral, food and prepared meals, thrift stores and collaborations with the faith community.
Correctional Services: Volunteers of America helps rehabilitate adult offenders and steer youth to set new, positive directions for their lives. Services include halfway house and work release programs, day reporting, diversion and pre-trial services, residential treatment, family supports, and dispute resolution and mediation services. Developmental Disability Services: Volunteers of America encourages people with developmental disabilities to be independent and involved in the community. Services include in-home supports, case management, day programs and supportive employment, specialized residential services and supported living. Elderly Services: Volunteers of America encourages seniors to be healthy and active through a host of supportive services. Services include senior centers and day programs, home repair and homemaker services, information and referral, Meals-on-Wheels and group meal programs, transportation, companion services, protection against abuse and neglect, case management and volunteer services. Emergency Services: Volunteers of America responds to people in crisis situations, providing food, clothing, and assistance with rent, utilities and transportation. Employment and Training Services: Volunteers of America works to prevent unemployment and underemployment through a range of training and employment services. Programs include adult literacy, computer centers, work experience programs, counseling, job placement and supportive employment for individuals with disabilities. Health Care Services: For seniors and others coping with illness or injury, Volunteers of America offers a continuum of services. We provide long-term nursing care, assisted living, memory care, nursing care, rehabilitative therapy and more. Homeless Services: Volunteers of America works to prevent and end homelessness for individuals and families through a range of support services. Services include eviction prevention, emergency services, housing, transitional housing with services and permanent affordable housing. Housing : Volunteers of America is one of the nation's largest nonprofit providers of quality, affordable housing for families, the elderly and people with disabilities. We also help low-income families achieve home ownership. Mental Health : Volunteers of America helps people with chronic or severe mental illnesses to successfully manage their illness through crisis counseling and "hotline" programs, case management, day programs and drop-in centers, transportation, residential care and supported independent living. Substance Abuse: Volunteers of America works to prevent and eliminate substance abuse by youth and adults through residential and outpatient services, from prevention to treatment to long-term support.