The 120-year-old non-profit ministry has hundreds of human service programs that help more than 2 million people a year, including its famous Meals on Wheels program.
- Posted on Apr 5, 2016
Volunteers of America (VOA) is probably best known nationwide because of its acclaimed Meals on Wheels program, also known as Senior CommUnity Meals, where elderly, homebound people receive a free hot meal delivered to their door.
But the 120-year-old non-profit ministry has hundreds of human service programs that help more than 2 million people a year. Chances are good you've seen a project run by the Volunteers of America, although you may not have realized who was behind the effort.
From veterans to the homeless, senior citizens to at-risk youth, VOA’s mission has been to help the most underserved people get what they need to survive and thrive, providing not only food, but affordable housing for people and families in need. That’s why Guideposts is proud to partner with VOA and shine some light on the wonderful work it is doing across the country.
While the organization has the word "volunteer" in its name, it's actually run by 16,000 employees who work in 46 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. In this case, "volunteer" describes the spirit of their employees, who voluntarily decided to dedicate themselves to helping others.
VOA considers itself more than a non-profit organization. They call their work a "ministry of service." Their employees are dedicated to helping those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential.
Since the group was founded in 1896, they especially try to reach the most vulnerable. In addition to veterans, the homeless, senior citizens and at-risk youth, VOA works with men and women returning from prison, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions.
In addition to their dedicated staff, VOA has 55,000 volunteers nationwide who support VOA’s mission of being a “church without walls,” that shows people how much God loves them. Two of those volunteers are Kip and Rhonda, a married couple who have been volunteering with the Denver, Colorado branch of VOA for 16 years.
When the former teachers were able to retire early, they knew they wanted to do something significant with their time. Kip tells Guideposts.org:
“About 17 years ago, there was a commercial for VOA on T.V. that showed a man delivering a meal to a lady’s house and this song was playing in the background, That’s Amore, that’s love. And I just thought, ‘Yeah, that’s what volunteering is all about, love.’ We felt blessed by God’s kindness and we wanted to join up with Volunteers of America and it’s been a perfect experience for us.”
Kip and Rhonda sought out VOA in Denver and joined its Meals on Wheels program, delivering free, hot, nutritionally sound meals to homebound people who are 60 years old and above. They drive their own vehicle, provide their own gas and take one main delivery route and then pick up one or two subroutes a week, when other volunteers have to cancel.
But for Kip and Rhonda, they’re delivering much more than just a meal, they’re delivering love.
“Sometimes it will be the only meal a day some people get, but more than that, we've had several times where we're the only human contact they have with other people,” Rhonda says. That time together over the years has made the people they deliver food to “like extended family,” to Kip and Rhonda.
With their dedication and personal connections to the elderly they visit, Kip and Rhonda help personify the spirit of this vibrant and diverse organization.
America’s Angels tells stories of how Volunteers of America helps our nation’s most vulnerable. Learn more at voa.org/guideposts