Archive for June, 2010

As I write this, my final message to Volunteers of America friends, I’m reminded of my first message 15 years ago and of how much has changed since then. Our communication then was pretty much limited to print media – reaching people through our Spirit magazine or Gazette newsletter. While we had a Web site even then, it was not our favored means of passing along timely messages. Today, friends anywhere around the world can easily follow Volunteers of America’s news on our Web site, through Twitter, or on our Facebook page or other social media sites. In fact, you can even view and listen to my farewell message through our use of video.

We’ve absorbed technology into our organization, not just for communication and data gathering, but also for service delivery. Seniors, for example, are able to remain independently at home today because Volunteers of America invested in and pioneered home monitoring technology that is now being used by care providers across the country.

And yet, at its heart, Volunteers of America continues to be what it was long before I arrived and what is has been since its inception in 1896―an organization of compassionate individuals connecting one-on-one with those who need support to get through a crisis in life.

It has been my privilege to lead this organization for fifteen years. At the end of my current five-year term this June 30, I will be stepping down as president and CEO. I have been contemplating a move toward more international impact in the next stage of my career and have identified a wonderful opportunity. Effective August 1, I will take up the position of Director-General (CEO) of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), an international non-governmental organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and with members in 90 countries.

ICA was established in 1895 to serve as the global voice of the co-operative movement: credit unions, agricultural co-ops, consumer co-ops, housing co-ops, etc. The timing is especially exciting, as the United Nations has declared 2012 as the International Year of the Co-operative. This affords an exceptional opportunity to draw attention to the co-operative as a values-based business model that can lift people out of poverty in developing countries, while it can also provide balance in the economic systems of developed countries that are struggling to recover from the recent recession.

I move on to this next challenge knowing that Volunteers of America is in excellent hands. With Mike King as our new CEO, we are well-positioned to demonstrate new ways of meeting human needs. We are undergoing the type of societal changes that Volunteers of America has witnessed more than once in its past. We have responded to each with a new approach, one that is relevant and of its time. Our willingness to step up and assume financial risk for the outcomes we know we can deliver and our confidence in employing technology as part of the service solution are elements of our new approach for this era.

I have no doubt that, with the help of people of good will – always essential in every era – Volunteers of America will help millions in the coming years find their way through difficult times in their lives.

It has been a very real privilege being part of this wonderful work.

All the best,

Charles W. Gould, National President and CEO

Read Full Post »

Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005, damaged more than 300,000 homes, affected the lives of 650,000 Louisiana residents, displaced 183,000 kids and 45,000 residents aged 75 and older. The storm and its aftermath were beyond devastating. Volunteer of America Greater New Orleans’ Forest Towers was damaged beyond repair and in early 2010; it was replaced by The Terraces on Tulane, a 200-unit community for low-income seniors. Watch a moving documentary about the residents moving back into their new home in their beloved, beautiful city.

Read Full Post »

Rosemarie Rae

Rosemarie Rae, Executive Vice President of Strategy for Volunteers of America

In a recent Michelle Singletary Washington Post column, Rosemarie Rae, who manages our “Aging with Options” initiative, provided a list of steps one can take with elderly loved ones when discussing their care and financial options.

“We start saving for our kids to go to college years in advance but don’t talk to our parents until it’s too late to make good decisions,” says Rosemarie Rae, executive vice president of strategy for Volunteers of America and responsible for our “Aging With Options” initiative.

“Caregivers are rarely prepared for the emotional wear and tear on their marriages and sibling relationships,” Rae said. “While caregiving can be rewarding, it can also stir up years of resentments and unresolved family issues. Engaging a neutral third party to negotiate can be very helpful.”

Read more about Rosemarie’s suggestions.

Read Full Post »