March is a time for celebration at VOACC! 126 years ago today, our devoted founders Ballington and Maud Booth launched Volunteers of America. In many states across the country March 8th has officially been declared Volunteers of America Day.

We are proud to have been able to continue our legacy of hope – and it's all thanks to supporters like YOU. From the bottom of all of our hearts, thank you for answering the Call to Care for your most vulnerable neighbors.
Our ability to transform lives for the better wouldn't be possible without the passion and dedication of loyal supporters like you. Each donor has a unique story that drives them to be beacons of hope. In this issue of Caring Chronicles, we're excited to share John & Allison Wingard's story.

John and Allison have been giving to Volunteers of America for over 20 years. For John and Allison, giving to VOACC has been deeply personal. They give both to honor John's late mother Avis and to thank our staff for taking care of her through one of our nursing programs.
John Wingard
John was born and raised in Fremont, Ohio. The only child of J. Howard and Avis Parks Wingard, he and his parents had a love for the outdoors. John was particularly fond of trees, a passion he would return to later in life.

“We would vacation in Florida. When my Mom realized I liked trees, she bought me a book and I started keeping a notebook about the trees I would see.”
John drove two hours down the road and attended The Ohio State University for college and law school. After earning his law degree, John moved to Washington DC to begin a 38-year career at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

During this time, John lost his father. In need of additional support as she aged, John's mother became dependent on the kindness of her neighbors who would come and check on her.
Allison Wingard
As Avis became more frail with time, it became clear that she would need more direct support. That's when John discovered Volunteers of America and the work we do to support seniors in need. John was able to move his mother into one of our skilled nursing facilities, where Avis received loving care for about six years until her passing in 1989. Since then, John has been making gifts to VOACC, helping to ensure that our programs can continue to support others like Avis.

“I want to do something positive with my money. There’s no reason to be the richest man in the graveyard.”

After retiring in 2004, John returned to his love of trees and got involved with the Arlington County Urban Foresters. He then went through training and became part of the Tree Stewards of Arlington - Alexandria, serving as the group’s President from 2020-2021. Today, John continues to enjoy retirement in Arlington, VA with his wife Allison and their cat Callie.
If you would like to learn more about how you can begin to build a legacy of compassion, view our different giving options by selecting the button below.
The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh visits Maple Court
Our Carolinas Development Team recently hosted a tour at our Maple Court Veterans Transitional Housing Apartments with friends and community members from the Saint Thomas Moore Catholic Church of Chapel Hill, NC and The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh.
(L to R) Daniel Oladele, Maple Court Program Director;
Marianne Mitchell, Ed.D, Mental Health Ministry for Saint Thomas Moore Catholic Church; Joseph Bachota, Jr, Carolinas Chaplain for VOACC; Mary Ellen McGuire, Pastoral Associate for Saint Thomas Moore Catholic Church; Deacon Joshua Klickman, Human Life and Dignity Coordinator for The Diocese of Raleigh
The visit involved a conversation about our veteran homeless prevention initiatives across the state of NC as well as our Maple Court program in Durham.

While our veterans are receiving medical care services, those who provide care are also facing emotional, mental and spiritual challenges. Saint Thomas Moore Parish shared that the majority of their church members are local medical professionals and care providers on the front lines of the COVID pandemic.

Our communities are working creatively together to support those who provide care, and also receive care through ministry.
At VOACC, we offer a unique program called Moral Injury and Recovery After Covid (MIRAC) under the direction of our Chaplain Joe Bachota for North Carolina. MIRAC is designed to help members of our community who have been emotionally or mentally impacted by the pandemic, including direct support professionals and others who provide care. The program also offers trainings to those interested in providing MIRAC support to others.

We're looking forward to further exploring ways The Diocese of Raleigh Parishes like Saint Thomas Moore can partner with us on pastoral care and resource initiatives for our community.
Learn more about Saint Thomas Moore Catholic Church here
and The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh here.

To learn more about our Maple Court program,
please visit us online.
In this issue of about Caring Chronicles, we are excited to spotlight the newest member of our Board of Directors, Linda Gilmore.

Linda has had a busy professional career working with some well-known companies. Serving as a marketer, consultant and program manager she currently works as the Supervisor of the Specialty Markets at CareFirst. Linda has also spent time with Conair and Pepsico. She has also worked at the Maryland Department of Labor and the FBI.

Linda earned her Bachelor's from Towson University and her MBA from New Haven University in Connecticut.
At Howard Community College in Columbia, MD, Linda spent some time teaching marketing as an Adjunct Adjunct Professor.

Always wanting to give back, she currently leads and serves on a variety of boards, including ours.
“There is a famous quote by Muhammad Ali that sums it all very well for me. It states, ’service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.’ I’m blessed to be in a position to be a servant leader today, tomorrow and beyond.”
We asked Linda a few questions...

What about VOACC inspired you to join the Board of Directors?

As a CareFirst Inc. associate, I was able to access volunteer board opportunities through the CareFirst and Business Volunteers of Maryland boardConnect process. This engagement was the best “speed dating” experience I had ever had and provided my introduction to Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas. By the end of the “first date” I was very intrigued by VOACC’s mission and servant leadership model. Within the "second date", I became further impressed with the synergies between CareFirst’s “culture of health” and VOACC’s mission and values. The concept of a Church Without Walls aligns well with my interpersonal intentions – a beautifully aligned marriage!
To read the full article on Linda, click on one of the buttons below!
YouthBuild Graduate Begins New Career
When Michael Diaz became involved with our Newport News YouthBuild program in Virginia, he didn’t know what to expect, but he was ready to take the next step in his life. A Newport News Public Schools graduate, Michael was interested in the hands-on training YouthBuild offered, as well as the weekly stipend. 
Michael joined the six-month program in April 2021 and quickly became a stand-out student. YouthBuild’s classroom training exposed Michael to multiple facets of the trades and construction industry, including HVAC, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and much more. Skilled and compassionate instructors encouraged and challenged Michael and his classmates, constantly pushing them to learn as much as possible while also looking for ways to improve themselves and their community. He received his National Center for Construction Education and Research credential, as well as OSHA and CPR certificates. Michael also graduated with a Leadership Award for his excellence during the program. Through his other trainings, he gained the knowledge needed to develop committees and groups for reviewing safety training materials and address complaints in the workplace.

In addition to classroom experience, Michael and the other YouthBuild participants put their skills to use in the real-world with Habitat for Humanity. They worked alongside licensed contractors to build homes in the Southeast Community of Newport News. 
A key part of the YouthBuild program is job shadowing. During this portion of the program, Michael was able to get involved with Breeden Construction. The Breeden leadership team was impressed with Michael and commented that he had great promise, a natural skill set, and leadership ability. After Michael graduated from the program, he was quickly hired by Breeden as a Carpentry Laborer. 
To Michael, this is more than a job, it is a career and dream realized. Thanks to Breeden, he is now thriving in the profession of his choice, which includes insurance and benefits. Michael is now working with the Breeden team to help build the apartment complex that is part of the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative in the Southeast Community, near where he worked with Habitat for Humanity.
To learn more about our YouthBuild program, visit our website.

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March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Before the 19th century, people with developmental disabilities were treated violently and lived in poor, unhygienic environments. Many were ‘passed on,’ a practice of carting off people to be dropped in another town. More awareness about developmental disabilities spread in this century both in England and in the U.S.

Social reformers such as Dorothy Dea became leading advocates of the human rights of people with disabilities. Since it was socially unacceptable for a woman to speak in Congress, she asked another reformer, Samuel Gridley Howe, to present her argument for rehabilitating people with disabilities. The motion was passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives but was vetoed by President Pierce. Even the Romantic poets of England such as Byron, Wordsworth, and Keats, who highlighted the goodness of leading a simple life close to nature, were instrumental in prompting authorities to situate asylums in the countryside.

Other reformers and educationists such as Edouard Seguin believed in the benefits of sensory and muscular training to force the central nervous system to “take over” and perform duties that children were otherwise unable to. Maria Montessori was influenced by his methods while working with children with disabilities and other children. The nature of training and institutions continued to evolve over the century, leading to an adverse development. Custodial institutions started being established by the end of the century, which essentially segregated pupils from the rest of the community. It was only after the deinstitutionalization movement of the 1970s and 1980s that Ronald Reagan declared March the month for National Developmental Disabilities Awareness in 1987.

This year's theme is Worlds Imagined.
March 8, 1896
Volunteers of America 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.” That declaration continues to guide Volunteers of America’s outreach efforts today.
At VOACC we are always trying to keep our stakeholders informed on what's happening in our organization.

We have two informative webinars coming up in March. To learn more and find out how to be a part of them, visit the links below.
On March 25th we will continue our behavioral health Anti-Stigma campaign by looking at Child & Adolescent Health. Learn more here.
On March 24th our Healing Conversation will look at "The Wisdom of Healing Through Listening Courageously." Learn more here