Volunteers of America’s Mission & History

Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas is an affiliate of Volunteers of America, a national nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping people rebuild their lives and reach their full potential. As one of the largest affiliates, we strategically design and locally deliver evidence-based programs to our communities' most pressing needs.

Volunteers of America’s Mission

Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas empowers self-reliance and inspires hope. As a church without walls, we do this through personalized housing, ministry, health, and human services that benefit vulnerable individuals, their families and the community.

Our Vision

A world where all people live in safety, with social, emotional and physical well-being, spiritual fulfillment, justice, and hope.

Our Name

The name Volunteers of America was chosen by our founders, Ballington and Maud Booth, when the organization was founded over 125 years ago. They volunteered to dedicate their hearts, spirits, and lives to help reach and uplift people in need. Our name meant the organization was comprised of people voluntarily choosing to help others. Back in 1896, a volunteer was anyone who was committed to a mission or cause. Today, we are a nonprofit organization comprised of over 800 paid, professional case managers, housing experts, administrators, clinicians, caregivers, psychologists and leaders throughout Maryland, DC, Virginia and the Carolinas. Our staff carries on the Booth’s legacy of ministry of service by helping those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential.

volunteers of america mission - Leola Dorsey Community Resource Center staff and residents standing together and smiling.

Impact Statement

At Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas, we have been promoting a healthy community for all for over 125 years by aligning health, housing and human services. We actively pursue health equity by filling the gap in housing and care for underserved populations, including those who are homeless, low-income, underinsured or uninsured, justice-involved and veterans.

Our lines of service include homeless services, supportive housing, behavioral health, substance use recovery, intellectual/developmental disability services, veterans services, community re-entry and workforce development.

Our Core Values – Voice of Faith

Visionary – Transforming our future with imagination and wisdom from God

One Body – One Family working together with unity and respect

Integrity – Demonstrating honesty in all actions and decisions to safeguard trust

Compassion – Genuine concern, kindness & selfless devotion toward each other & those we serve

Excellence – Exceeding promises to our stakeholders with agility, expertise & innovative solutions

of Faith – Our foundation – the belief in, trust in, and loyalty to God

volunteers of america mission

Our History

Ballington and Maud Booth envisioned a movement dedicated to “reaching and uplifting” the American people. Founding Volunteers of America in 1896, the social reformers pledged to “go wherever we are needed, and do whatever comes to hand.” That declaration has guided Volunteers of America’s outreach efforts ever since.

In the Early 1900s

In turn-of-the-century America, there was no shortage of work for the newly established Volunteers of America. 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.


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 affordable housing dates to our organization’s founding. Volunteers of America helped accelerate real estate development during the 1960s by participating in numerous federal housing programs. Since 1968, Volunteers of America has developed over 300 affordable housing complexes in more than 31 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, we are 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. Planning for the next 100 years, we will continue to prove that “there are no limits to caring.”

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