Our History & Mission

We’ve been around. We’ll be around. You can count on us.

VOA Illinois is one of the oldest affiliates of the Volunteers of America family, which is a national nonprofit, faith-based organization that was founded in 1896 by social reformers Ballington and Maud Booth. They envisioned a movement dedicated to “reaching and uplifting” the American people. On behalf of the organization, the Booths pledged to “go wherever we are needed and do whatever comes to hand. Today, VOA Illinois supports individuals, families, and communities who need it most, when they need it most.

Volunteers of America is a national nonprofit organization providing local human service programs and the opportunity for individual and community involvement. The words “there are no limits to caring” represent an enduring philosophy of service that spans three centuries. The founders’ pledge “to go wherever we are needed and do whatever comes to hand” still guides the organization’s growth and development efforts today, more than 125 years since the organization’s birth.

We are a mission-driven AND value-centered organization dedicated to living the following values in all we do:


We are committed to operating with uncompromising integrity and within the highest ethical standards and to be responsible stewards of all the resources entrusted to us with the utmost regard for efficiency and effectiveness.


We are committed to fulfilling our promises and doing what we say we will do when it needs to be done. We will focus on the things that matter most and on those efforts that make the biggest difference in the lives of the people we serve.


We operate from a profound belief in the power of God’s grace to transform even the most difficult situations and we believe in the potential for “greatness” in those we serve, those we serve with and in the world around us. We believe in the fundamental goodness of people and in their unlimited capacity to transform their lives.


We approach the responsibility to serve others with the same fervor and passion that inspired the organization’s founders more than a century ago … a passion that inspired them to do more than simply improve the world around them but to actually strive to transform it.


We understand that we achieve our mission through teamwork and a commitment to common goals and objectives. We encourage the development of supportive and collaborative efforts within and across departments that create unit and strengthen results. We seek and celebrate a diverse staff that bring complementary skills and perspectives to the organization. As a ministry of service, we promote a professional, courteous, cooperative and diverse work environment that fosters mutual respect and consideration of co-workers, colleagues, volunteers and clients.


We approach our work with a commitment to being truly client-centered in our approach, philosophy, interactions, transactions, processes and interventions. We are committed to providing the highest level of care to the people we serve and to utilizing a trauma-informed approach in the way we approach every interaction and intervention with the people we serve. We make this commitment not because we assume that trauma is necessarily central to everyone’s day to day experience but rather, because the principles of trauma-informed care ensure a culture of client care that is built on characteristics that are consistent with our organizational values and facilitate an environment for clients that is most conducive to positive change. 

We are VOA Illinois

At VOA Illinois we specialize in providing more than a home. For 125 years, we have been supporting and empowering individuals, families, and communities including veterans and their families who are experiencing instability or crisis, children in foster care, the elderly, and adults with disabilities. 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.

The Depression 

The Great Depression of the 1930s stretched the nation’s private social welfare system almost to the breaking point. Volunteers of America mobilized to assist the millions of people who were unemployed, hungry and homeless. Relief efforts included employment bureaus, wood yards, soup kitchens and “Penny Pantries” where every food item cost one cent. 


Volunteers of America served proudly on the home front during both world wars. The group operated canteens, overnight lodging and Sunday breakfasts for soldiers and sailors on leave. Affordable housing and child care were provided for defense industry workers. Further, Volunteers of America spearheaded community salvage drives during World War II, collecting millions of pounds of scrap metal, rubber and fiber for the war effort.

The 1960s

Our special mission in housing dates to our organization’s founding. Volunteers of America helped accelerate real estate development during the 1960s by taking part in numerous federal housing programs. Since 1968, Volunteers of America has developed over 300 affordable housing complexes in more than 30 states.

The 1970s

VOA Illinois was exclusively doing child welfare services and was contracted by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services.

Timeline of VOA Illinois’ recent events


VOA Illinois took over a unique housing portfolio from the National office, that provided affordable housing options for the frail elderly and adults with disabilities primarily in St. Louis, MO. 

July 2007

VOA Illinois began serving Veterans with  the support of the  Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP -U.S. Department of Labor) grant. 

April 2009

Development of Hope Manor I began, which would provide 80 Veterans in homelessness, at risk of homelessness or in serious instability with a place to call home. 

September 2011

VOA Illinois expanded capacity of serving Veterans  with the support of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF-U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs) grant, which provided VOA Illinois with the resources to operate the True North Project for Veterans.

April 2012

Hope Manor I opened at full capacity!

October 2012

Development of Hope Manor II began, which would provide 73 Veteran-headed households, who are at risk of serious instability, with a place to call home. 

April 2014

Hope Manor II opened and to date is 100% leased!

January 2015

VOA Illinois was awarded the contract from the Department of Veterans Affairs to administer transitional housing services to Veterans in acute instability through a safe haven model, which we named Hope Hall. To date, Hope Hall is at capacity and currently serves 12 male Veterans and 2 female Veterans. 

February 2016

Development of Hope Manor Joliet began, which would provide 67 Veteran headed households, who are at risk of serious instability, with a place to call home.

March 2017

Hope Manor Joliet officially opened, and to date is at 100% occupancy!

February 2018

Development of Hope Manor Village began, which would be an extension of our Hope Manor II campus, providing a high-quality, affordable housing option for families in need of affordable housing. Hope Manor Village would consist of 16 buildings containing 36 two – bedroom apartments.

October 2020

The first buildings of Hope Manor Village open and our first families move in!

January 2021

VOA Illinois started serving individuals and families’ experiencing homelessness through a 12-month citywide referral program.

April 2021

All buildings and units for Hope Manor Village officially opened!

July 2021

VOA Illinois began serving in people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because of a disability through Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Program.

October 2022

VOA Illinois expanded our capacity of serving Veterans through the Staff Sgt. Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program (SSG Fox SPGP), which provides VOA Illinois with the resources to provide Suicide Prevention and Community Educations Services or SPACES. We provide SPACES for healing, growth, and connection.

January 2023

VOA Illinois partnered with North Lawndale College Prep to provide mentorship to the students and staff in response to the high levels of violence the community has been experiencing.

August 2023

VOA Illinois started a new program called Housing is Recovery through the Illinois Department of Human Services. Housing is Recovery partners with individuals to build strong futures through housing and essential skill building.


VOA Illinois continues to bring a new beginning to Veterans and their families who are struggling or in crisis, a bright future for children and families at risk of significant instability due to poverty, homelessness or violence, and a better quality of life for seniors and adults with disabilities. We are in our second century of service, we are part of a network that is one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive human services organization in the United States and we will continue helping America’s most vulnerable for years to come.

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