Women are caretakers. They care for children, for parents, for elderly neighbours who don’t have anyone else to watch over them. They act as the glue holding together extended, multigenerational families. And, unfortunately, all too often women are the only caretakers in many families.
This is why so many of the programs offered by Volunteers of America focus on women, especially mothers. We understand the role they play as the foundations of their families and communities. We know we can’t begin to help the children, low-income seniors and many others who depend on these women if we don’t first stabilize the lives of the women themselves. This includes affordable housing, nutrition programs, and even addition and mental health services, depending on the specific situation. By building stronger women, we also hope to build stronger families and communities.
Maud Booth co-founded Volunteers of America on March 8, 1896, in an era when women rarely worked outside the home, let alone led national human service organizations. She understood the benefit of tailoring programs to people’s individual needs and being able to adapt to new social problems presented themselves. Helping women was always a top priority for her, starting with poor widows back in the days before Social Security. Maud remains an inspiration to us at Volunteers of America to this day.
For many years now, we’ve seen a growing number of women veterans joining the ranks of our homeless clients. These women bring with them unique problems that programs designed to help single male veterans fail to address … in particular, that many of these women are mothers with children who must also be accommodated. Military sexual trauma is another challenge that we’re only just now beginning to identify and understand.