Working Together is Essential to the Success of Our Programs
The work we perform at Volunteers of America centers on those who volunteer their hearts, minds and spirits in support of our mission. This includes two special groups of people – those who work for our organization as employees, and those unpaid people engaged in what we think of more traditionally as "volunteer work." Both groups, working together, are essential to the success of our programs and ensuring that our clients receive well-rounded care.
Our volunteers also provide a much-needed connection to local communities. Volunteer involvement allows us to introduce the needs of our clients to those who might not fully understand the extent of hunger or homelessness in their backyards – and in the process, make sure our clients don't remain hidden and invisible.
Nationally, we depend on an army of almost 66,000 volunteers who offer their free time to support our programs nationwide. These volunteers provided more than 1.3 million hours of service during 2016 alone, performing work such as delivering Meals on Wheels; providing administrative support like answering phones; collecting food or clothing; and providing professional services such as legal counsel, public relations, training and motivational speaking. We also work closely with our corporate funders – including The Home Depot, Niagara Bottling and HSBC – to provide high-quality, hands-on volunteer opportunities for their employees nationwide. In addition, Volunteers of America has a long-standing relationship with the Major League Baseball Players Trust to offer Action Team, a youth volunteerism program which to date has inspired almost 100,000 high school students to get involved in their communities.
That's not to say we're only staffed by volunteers … despite common confusion about our name. Most Volunteers of America programs are staffed by 15,000 full-time, paid professionals dedicated to our mission of service as their full-time jobs. This approach reflects a century-long history. When Volunteers of America was founded 121 years ago, the term "volunteer" had a very different meaning than it does today. Back then, volunteerism derived from a military context and to "volunteer" one's time in service to others was a full-time commitment. The early members of our movement thought of their involvement as a full-time, life-long endeavor that entailed not only their time, but also their hearts, spirits and professional prosperity.
We continue to keep the spirit of our founding alive by fostering a new generation of volunteers and encouraging people of all ages to make service a lifelong priority. Only by all of us working together – trained professionals and everyday folks – can we make a real difference in the lives of those who need our help. For more information on how to get involved with a Volunteers of America program in your community, visit http://www.voa.org/Get-Involved/Volunteer/Everyone_Can_Help.