Volunteers of America was founded in 1896 by social reformers Ballington and Maud Booth. They 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.” That declaration continues to guide Volunteers of America’s outreach efforts today.
The Early 1900s
In 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 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.
Volunteers of America served proudly 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.
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. Since 1968, Volunteers of America has developed over 300 affordable housing complexes in more than 30 states.
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.
Now in our 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 2.5 million people each year in hundreds of communities across the United States.
Planning for the next 100 years, Volunteers of America will continue to prove that “there are no limits to caring.® while also establishing ourselves as a leading provider of aging services to the support nation’s rapidly-growing senior population. We will change the aging experience through our most aggressive initiative to date ― Aging with Options™.
Our Affiliate - Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolina
Founded in 1896 in Baltimore, MD Volunteers of America Chesapeake was one of the first branches of Volunteers of America - one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive human services organizations. Volunteers of America Chesapeake and Volunteers of America Carolinas merged on July 1, 2019 to form Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas.
Through a dedicated and committed team of management, staff and volunteers and guided by our Core Values: Visionary, One Body, Integrity, Compassion, Excellence, and Faith - Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas helps thousands of people each year throughout Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia and the Carolinas at our programs serving:
- Neighbors who experience homelessness or are at risk to be homeless
- Individuals with mental illness
- Individuals with intellectual disabilities
- Those in need of affordable housing
- Those in need of supportive services
- Those recovering from substance abuse addictions
- Those involved in community corrections
Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas is one of 33 Volunteers of America affiliates across the United States. Together we help more than 2.5 million people in more than 400 communities.
At Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas our staff of more than 600 and volunteers numbering more than 2,000 coordinate our efforts with other agencies and local organizations to maximize the impact of our work.