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Archive for the ‘Hunger’ Category

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Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans President/CEO Jim LeBlanc stands by Princeton Carter as he presents a gift card from his Brother’s Keeper Newman program to 10-year Army veteran Juanita and her twin daughters, Kamry and Kalin.

Many of us see persons who are homeless and feel sorry for them. But Princeton Carter, a ninth grader at Newman School in New Orleans, did much more. He noticed that one of the homeless men under a bridge near the Superdome carried a sign saying he was a veteran. Looking closer, Princeton saw that the man also displayed an ID that proved he had served.

Princeton knew he had to help. After brainstorming, he decided that feeding veterans in crisis would make a real difference. He planned a community service project called “My Brother’s Keeper Newman.” Gift cards from a local grocery store chain were soon part of the plan. Carter began asking other Newman students and parents for help. The school’s Action Committee, which focuses on providing community service, also became involved in the project and recruited more supporters. Before long, Carter received fifty $100 gift cards for groceries.

While organizing his project, Carter learned that Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans serves veterans in a variety of ways through a Support Services for Veterans Families program. This effort stabilizes formerly homeless veterans who are rebuilding their lives. It helps them unite and take care of their families. Carter decided to present Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans with the gift cards he had gathered to help veterans in need.

As a result of Carter’s generous donation, supported by the Newman School community, many veterans and their families are being fed and loved. His commitment to help has made a huge difference in the lives of those who served our country.

– By Anna Scheffy, Marketing Coordinator, Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans

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This Is Why We Do What We DoDuring the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, Volunteers of America launched a new national advertising campaign focused on a central theme: “This is why we do what we do.™” Created in collaboration with The Richards Group, a top branding and advertising firm based in Dallas, the campaign was produced last summer and the print ads feature the faces of actual clients served by our organization. It was important for us to include real people to make a stronger connection between the work we do and the lives that are transformed by that work every day.

This kind of ad campaign is something new for Volunteers of America. For a long time, we’ve described ourselves as an organization that’s “on the front lines, not in the headlines.” We’ve focused our attention on serving those in need rather than seeking out attention. While remaining humble servants certainly is important, I’m reminded of the Bible verse from Matthew 5:15 – “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house.”

Now as much as ever, it’s critically important for us to make this kind of investment in “brand awareness.” Our clients depend on us not only to provide basic services like housing, but also to provide them with a voice and preserve the assistance on which they depend. We owe it to them to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us, and to ensure that the organization has access to additional resources – financial resources, in particular – to continue sustaining and growing the programs we offer to those who need us. An organization like Volunteers of America can’t do that if we remain anonymous. To compete and survive in an economic environment where an increasing number of charities compete for a dwindling pool of funding, while also responding to a growing number of people who need help, we must do whatever we can to distinguish ourselves and inform others about the needs of our clients.

We plan to air a second round of television ads later this spring around Memorial Day on cable news networks including FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, Headline News, as well as on “CBS Sunday Morning.” We’re also working to secure print ads in a number of high-profile print publications. While we normally shy away from blowing our own horn, we feel that our clients are best served when we do what we can to bring the issues that affect them out into the spotlight.

To learn more, visit www.VolunteersofAmerica.org, or view the new ads on Volunteers of America’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/VolofAmerica.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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Enhancement

Let’s be honest about the “fiscal cliff” and the faulty logic that claims that charitable tax deduction is a benefit for the wealthy that won’t be missed. Political leaders touting this bromide are justifying proposals to redirect these dollars away from important work happening in communities nationwide.

Congress is seriously considering caps or cuts to the charitable deduction. The potential result—millions served by America’s nonprofit sector will be hit with the double whammy of government cutbacks and decline in the support of organizations like Volunteers of America, American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Boys & Girls Clubs and the American Cancer Society.

Quietly and humbly carrying out extraordinary missions every day, it may be easy to overlook the nonprofit sector as a growth industry and vital part of America’s social and economic fabric. Limiting or doing away with the charitable deduction at a time when people are still reeling from the recession and budget cutbacks simply makes no sense. It won’t help the federal government avoid the fiscal cliff. It will simply shift it to the nonprofit sector and communities that depend on it.

Hundreds of leaders serving our communities will travel to our nation’s capital December 4-5 to make sure elected officials understand what is at stake. These leaders of the Charitable Giving Coalition include more than 50 of America’s most active charities, nonprofits and other organizations. We are speaking out to protect a 100-year American philanthropic tradition that encourages giving back and strengthening communities. We’re also urging anyone committed to protecting the charitable deduction and the communities served by charitable giving to make sure their voices are heard.

We aim to pierce the “inside-the-beltway” bubble with a reality check from thousands of communities outside the beltway about what is at stake—crucial programs and services, from food pantries and medical research to youth programs and seed grants to support new businesses and job creation.

Data suggests that for every dollar deducted through this incentive, communities receive $3 of benefit. No other tax provision generates the kind of positive impact. But, if donors have less incentive to give, donations decline. The result is the loss of billions of dollars to support worthy causes, the jobs they provide, and the millions they serve.

According to Giving USA individual contributions to charitable causes in America account for 73 percent of all giving. These donations help achieve breakthroughs and benefits that put our country on a path of continuous improvement. A new public opinion poll commissioned by the United Way found that most Americans (79 percent) believe reducing or eliminating the charitable tax deduction would have a negative impact on charities and the people they serve. Of those who indicate they would reduce charitable giving, the majority (62 percent) indicate they would have to reduce their contributions by a significant amount—by 25 percent or more. Two out of every three Americans (67 percent) are opposed to reducing the charitable tax deduction.

The message is clear. Americans want to protect the charitable deduction.

And, consider this: Nonprofits generate $1.1 trillion every year through human services and provide 13.5 million jobs. They account for 5.4 percent of the GDP and 9 percent of all wages paid. The diverse nonprofit sector supports efforts to, for example, develop technology and medications to improve our health—like insulin, the polio vaccine, the MRI, electron microscope and pacemaker, provide educational opportunities and access to health services and ensure housing and shelter for the most vulnerable. Other nonprofits enhance the arts and cultural activities, conserve wetlands and protect the environment, protect civil and voting rights, and preserve historic treasures.

Now is not the time for Congress to dismantle a tradition that supports America’s nonprofits and the people and causes they serve. No doubt our nation faces a fiscal crisis that must be addressed, but Congress should stop seeing the charitable deduction as an easy mark and acknowledge the fiscal cliff they will create for America’s most vulnerable at a time they can least afford it. Giving strengthens our communities. Urge your members of Congress to preserve the charitable deduction.

Click here to add writing to your member of Congress to preserve charitable giving to your GOOD “to-do” list.


– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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During Volunteers of America’s first years in the early 20th century, our founders and their faithful followers adhered to the tenet “to go wherever we are needed and do whatever comes to hand.” More than a century later, this philosophy continues to guide Volunteers of America’s ministry of service.

You may have noticed that the programs and services provided by Volunteers of America in one part of the country can look completely different than those offered in another. Our approach is to assess the more than 400 communities we serve individually, identifying each one’s unique unaddressed needs We understand that a one-size-fits-all solution is not the best way to help those in need. Because all people and all communities are different, that’s the only way to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of those we serve.

The professional staff at Volunteers of America is really a 16,000-member family, and as you know, a family’s greatest strength is in its diversity. We’re experts in the needs of children, low-income families, the elderly, the homeless, veterans, those with disabilities and the incarcerated. We also understand that to fix many problems, we must help multiple groups and address multiple needs at the same time, taking a comprehensive approach that ultimately builds stronger communities.

And while we’re a national organization, we know that our work is most effective when it’s done locally. Examples of this can be found in places like Sioux Falls, S.D., where Volunteers of America recently hosted its national conference. While many of the problems in that community, such as poverty and substance abuse, are the same as in other places where we have a presence, the unique people in this community come with their own unique issues that must be considered. In South Dakota, Volunteers of America is a leader in providing services specifically to the Native American population, and we incorporate our clients’ culture into the services they receive.

Volunteers of America has always been a national organization providing services that meet local needs. In an age when taking a custom approach to anything has become increasingly rare, we strive to make sure our clients receive care that fits their unique individual needs. The people we help deserve more than just a cookie cutter solution to their problems. We make sure that they get the best individualized care possible. At Volunteers of America, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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On the north side of Seattle, Volunteers of America’s Western Washington affiliate operates two food banks, which combined serve more than 6,000 people each month with emergency food. While Volunteers of America provides services that address hunger in all areas of the country, these operations in Seattle are among our largest and most established.

One thing that stands out about the Seattle programs is that they are located in neighborhoods you might not think would be home to food banks. These are middle-class areas filled with well-maintained homes. The clients also represent a full variety of people, not just the stereotypical image of someone threatened with hunger. They range in age from children to seniors in wheelchairs. With the recent recession, many clients are college-educated professionals and young families who, because of a lost job, have spent down their savings and now need help putting food on the table.

According to a 2009 report from the USDA, 50.2 million Americans – including 33 million adults and 17.2 million children – lived in homes where the food supply was considered to be “insecure.” Homes with children were twice as likely to have insecure food supplies. Homes headed by single women with children were the group most likely to be threatened by hunger, with 38.6 percent falling into this category nationwide.

The plight of women suffering from hunger is especially important because it quite often affects the children under her care. That is why Volunteers of America takes a comprehensive approach to services for families in need. The lives of individuals can’t improve in a vacuum, and the needs of mothers and other family members must be tended to if children are ultimately going to live a better life.

On March 8, Volunteers of America celebrated its 115th anniversary. Since our founding more than a century ago, combating hunger has been one of our central service efforts. Co-founder Maud Booth was a leading advocate in her day for the plight of those less fortunate and was a pioneer for all women leaders. She understood that in order to build stronger communities and better lives for people, one must first address the basic necessities of life, such as regular, nourishing meals. That was true in 1896 and it’s still true today. While many things have changed in the world since Volunteers of America was founded, hunger, unfortunately, remains a reality for many people.

Please help us in our fight against hunger.

– By Mike King, National President and CEO, Volunteers of America

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