VOA Turns 125

For 125 Years, Volunteers of America has Served America’s Most in Need.

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 1, 2021

In 1896, when social reformers Ballington and Maud Booth founded Volunteers of America, it was for the same mission that the organization maintains today—to serve the country’s most vulnerable and needy populations.

The organization turns 125 in 2021 and has a variety of activities, programs and events scheduled around the anniversary. One of the most highly respected experts in the field of contemporary leadership development, Frances Hesselbein has agreed to serve as the organization’s honorary chairperson for the anniversary. Hesselbein is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton in 1998 and in 2013, was awarded Volunteers of America’s highest honor—the Maud Booth Legacy Award, for a lifetime of pioneering social change.

voa 125th anniversary picture

“Volunteers of America has become one of the largest charities in the U.S.,” explained Mike King, president and CEO of Volunteers of America. “When the organization sees an area where assistance is needed, it mobilizes.”

Volunteers of America’s founders first moved from the U.K. to New York in the 1890 to assume command of the Salvation Army in America. Ballington Booth was the son of General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. When Salvation Army leaders couldn’t get along, the Booths left and formed Volunteers of America (VOA). In the early 1900s, VOA ran an employment bureau, co-operative stores and medical dispensaries. It distributed food and clothes and taught women’s sewing classes. During the Depression, the organization mobilized to provide employment, run soup kitchens and feed the millions who were homeless and hungry.

In the 1960’s, VOA became known for its thrift stores and annual fundraising programs. It turned its focus to affordable housing. Today, Volunteers of America is one of the nation’s largest providers of affordable housing, with almost 500 properties that provide homes to approximately 25,000 residents. The organization buys, renovates, builds and develops housing for the country’s homeless and most at-risk populations including veterans, seniors and families.

In the 1970’s, Volunteers of America added being a major provider of professional long-term nursing care to its portfolio of services. Today, it not only offers home health care and related services, but also owns and operates nursing facilities, assisted and independent living residences.

Over the past century, the organization has become one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive human services organizations, touching the lives of almost 2 million people a year in communities across the U.S. It now operates 30 affiliates in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Most recently, Volunteers of America has launched programs to help those with moral injury.

For more information on Volunteers of America’s 125th anniversary activities and events, visit www.voa.org.

About Volunteers of America

Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives. Since 1896, our ministry of service has supported and empowered America’s most vulnerable groups, including veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, those recovering from addictions and many others. Through hundreds of human service programs, including housing and health care, Volunteers of America helps more than 1.5 million people in over 400 communities. Our work touches the mind, body, heart and ultimately the spirit of those we serve, integrating our deep compassion with highly effective programs and services. Learn more at www.voa.org.


Vicki Bendure, Bendure Communications

540-687-3360 or vicki@bendurepr.com

David Burch, Volunteers of America

703-341-5054 or dburch@voa.org

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