For 125 Years, Volunteers of America Has Served America’s Most Vulnerable
NEW ORLEANS, LA (February 24, 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 celebrates its 125th founders’ day on Monday, March 8, 2021. This year also marks the 125th anniversary of Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana’s founding when it began helping New Orleanians during the yellow fever outbreak out in 1896.
“Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana has become one of the largest human services providers in southeast Louisiana with over 20 programs available,” said Voris Vigee, president and CEO of Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana. “Within our 16-parish service area, Volunteers of America provides support and empowerment to more than 47,000 vulnerable individuals in southeast Louisiana annually, including at-risk youth, the frail elderly, veterans, people returning from prison, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions.”
Volunteers of America’s founders first moved from the U.K. to New York in 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. In the early 1900s, Volunteers of America ran an employment bureau, cooperative 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, Volunteers of America 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. Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana currently has two properties under construction that, once completed, will bring its portfolio to the fourteenth property in the state of Louisiana developed by its subsidiary, Renaissance Neighborhood Development Corporation.
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. This includes Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana’s senior housing at The Terraces on Tulane and Wisdom Manor in New Orleans and Academy Place in Houma.
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.
About Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana:
Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana is a part of a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential. Since 1896, our ministry of service has supported and empowered America's most vulnerable groups, including at-risk youth, the frail elderly, people returning from prison, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions. 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.voasela.org.