Mission & History
Our Mission is to serve people and communities in need and create opportunities for people to experience the joy of serving others.
Who We Are
The name "Volunteers of America" was selected when the organization was founded in 1896. In those days, a volunteer was anyone who was committed to a mission or cause, so the name signified that the organization was comprised of people who had chosen to spend their lives helping others. Today our services are delivered through a partnership made up of professional staff, volunteers and other community supporters. Volunteers are instrumental in every aspect of the organization's ministry of service, and help us reach more people than we could with staff time alone.
The Volunteers of America movement spread to Western Washington in 1898, just two years after founders Ballington and Maud proclaimed in New York that they would "...go where we are needed, and do whatever came to hand." Helping where help is needed and teaching people how to lead self-sufficient lives have been cornerstone principles in this evolving organization.
As the Booths were charting the organization's national history, for many years locally, Volunteers of America developed its community-based programs separately at two affiliate locations, one in Seattle and one in Everett. In 1999, the two affiliates merged into what is now known as Volunteers of America Western Washington and now responds to 350,000 requests for assistance each year.
RESPONDING TO NEEDS IN WESTERN WASHINGTON
Volunteers of America was an evangelical presence in Seattle in 1898. After becoming incorporated in 1912 as Volunteers of America of Washington, the organization's work gradually evolved into a social service organization As the years progressed these services included a Seattle soup kitchen in the 1930's, thrift stores in the 1940's and, after World War II, a summer camp for children from low-income families.
Volunteers of America Northwest Washington began in Everett, in 1915. Operating as an outpost of the Seattle-based Washington affiliate, the organization offered early programs that centered on the Men's Rehabilitation Center and the thrift store programs. Emergency assistance and religious counseling programs were also offered on a limited basis. By 1927, services expanded to meet the area's growing needs and the outpost became a separate branch of National Volunteers of America. A newly built facility housed its four programs.
Between 1927 and 1978, the Volunteers of America in Everett grew to include several new programs including a mission Sunday school, youth programs and a summer camp in Sultan, named Camp Volasuca. In 1971 and 1974, through many local partnerships, new camp facilities were built including a large and small A-frame and a bathhouse.
The organization steadily evolved between 1978 and the present day. The most dramatic change in this time took place in 1985 when the national office granted the local Volunteers of America a charter to begin to operate as a Washington State nonprofit corporation. The local Advisory Board became a Board of Directors responsible for approving policy and establishing direction.
Prior to the January 1999 merger with the Puget Sound affiliate, Volunteers of America Northwest Washington (which became Volunteers of America Western Washington) operated 17 service programs on a $10 million annual budget supported by almost 250 full and part-time employees and 400 volunteers. The mission to make a positive impact on the community has remained the same from the beginning. An example of faith in action, all services and programs created opportunities to reach, uplift and empower hundreds of thousands of individuals and families each year.
Our Ministry of Service
WE EMBRACE FAITH IN ACTION
Volunteers of America is a movement of faith in action, an ecumenical community of faith united in service to God and to humanity. Our Christian spiritual foundation truly sets Volunteers of America apart from most other human services organizations.
Compassion, forgiveness, and hope motivate us. These building blocks of our faith have led us to create programs and services that go to the heart of our community's needs.
WE MINISTER WHERE WE ARE NEEDED
Volunteers of America Western Washington has commissioned ministers on staff, yet we do not have customary houses of worship. Instead, our ministry takes us to the streets and to people in need. We offer spiritual support to our family of employees and volunteers, as well as performing weddings, funerals and other ministerial services when requested.