Women's History Month

During the month of March we celebrate Women's History Month and Founders Month at Volunteers of America of Illinois. One of our co-founders, Maud Booth, led the charge for women through the work that she did at Volunteers of America.

Maud was best known as a national leader for the work she did with prisoners and their families. It was a letter in 1896 that Maud received from an inmate that began her life's work. She started visiting prisons to speak with the inmates, listen to them, and share her faith. It was through these meetings that Maud started calling the prisoners "her boys" and they referred to her as "Little Mother". It didn't take long for other prisoners to start reaching out and inviting her to their prison. Over the next 52 years Maud dedicated her life's work and passion to "her boys".


Today, our offices are still filled with the determination and spirit that Maud Booth created for us 122 years ago. Every week we will be highlighting a different employee from our programs that embodies the same values and ideals that Maud did when she first started Volunteers of America of Illinois.

Meet the Women of VOA of IL

  • Kyla Farquhar

    Foster Care Case Manager

    When did you know this was the work that you were meant to do?

    "When I was in high school I knew I wanted to work in social work. When I started college I majored in Sociology and realized I loved working with people and I'm a people person. I come from foster care and I'm familiar with it. My own experience planted the seed for me."

    What are you most proud of?

    "I'm proud of my personal growth as a case manager, a black woman, as an advocate for the children, and as a speaker. I've started to use my voice in ways I didn't know how to before and I'm no longer afraid to express what I'm going through and feeling. I'm growing everyday."

    Who is your role model?

    "My biological father. Reuniting with him was something I always dreamed of and now I'm a member of his church and I've been able to watch him grow and learn from his mistakes. He is such a passionate man and when he sets his mind to something he does it. He is faithful, positive, and someone I learn from everyday."

  • Elissa Besterwitch

    Property Manager at Balsam Terrace and Spruce Manor Apartments

    What does a typical day look like for you?

    "Every day is so different! A large part of my day consists of completing the necessary paperwork required to keep an apartment building running smoothly, and interspersed throughout the day is spent helping residents, and taking a few minutes to chat with them to brighten their day!"

    What is your greatest success at VOA of IL?

    "My first big goal after starting this job and seeing the large variety in our population was to learn sign language as fast as possible. It was very important to me to be able to fully communicate with every single person who lives here, and now I love being able to carry on a conversation with everyone!"

    If you could do one thing without failure what would it be?

    "I wish I could help others to always be kind to each other. We never know when someone needs some extra caring to help them through their day."

  • Nancy Hughes Moyer

    President and CEO

    When did you know this was the work that you were called to do?

    "When I was 6 years old. I never seriously considered doing anything else with my career. Before I was able to work I opened my own day camp in my neighborhood for about 10-15 kids. Any money that I did make, I reinvested into the camp and supplies for the next week."

    What is one of your VOA of IL successes?

    "Creating the Veterans housing that we now have. I can personally remember every step that we took from when it was just an exciting idea to the conception of it becoming a home."

    What is the best advice you've received?

    "'Better to light one candle then curse the darkness.' 'The mark of a great leader isn't about if they get punched, it's whether they can take a punch and get back up.' And I think this is also true of a great organization."

  • Dazerie Woods

    Service Coordinator at Hope Manor Joliet

    What does a typical day look like for you?

    "A typical day at Hope Manor Joliet starts with me talking to a group of residents that share coffee each morning. They ask me the same questions but it's a great way to begin my day. Throughout the day I meet with individual residents that are looking for assistance, whether that is with their resume or wanting to stop in the food pantry. In the afternoon I make my way around the property to make sure residents are familiar with me and know who is here throughout the day."

    What are you most proud of?

    "I am most proud of my military career and how it set the tone for my future."

    What is the best advice you've received?

    "My great grandmother use to tell me 'everyone doesn't love the way you love, everyone isn't as kind but don't let that taint you'".