Historical Timeline

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 has guided Volunteers of America’s outreach efforts ever since.


  • The Greater Twin Cities United Way recognized Volunteers of America-Minnesota as “Best Agency Partner” for 2011 for our year-round engagement with the United Way, as well as for a 70% increase in VOA-MN employee giving from 2010 to 2011.


  • Launched Multi-Dimensional Foster Care program, a prescribed, evidence-based residential program for children with emotional and/or behavioral problems.
  • Our Service Adventure Leadership (SALT) High School was presented with the “Program of the Year” award by the Minnesota Association of Alternative Schools (MAAP) for its inspirational curriculum, structure, outreach, outcomes, and innovation.
  • Hired Paula Hart as new President and CEO.


  • Staff from the leased space at Hennepin Square moved into the owned Metro Boulevard location.
  •  Negotiated a contract with Ramsey County to provide housing for women, coming out of chemical dependency treatment, to provide a "step down" measure allowing them to regain employment and prepare them to seek and obtain permanent housing.  The program, known as Group Residential Housing (GRH), is located in North Oaks next door to the currently operating Women's Recovery Center. Mental Health Services at the Minnesota Academy for the Deaf (MSAD) in Faribault were expanded to include an intensive outpatient day treatment program.


  • VOA-MN was one of the first charter school authorizers approved by the Minnesota Department of Education under a new law passed by the legislature.
  • Acquired Stepping Stones program in Milaca for adults with intellectual disabilities needing semi-independent living services.
  • Launched Adult Mental Health Case Management program to offer coordination of services for adults with emotional disturbances so they may remain living at home.
  • Received renewed certification of full compliance with the standards of the Charities Review Council, which reviews accountability, governance, financial management, fundraising and ethical standards.
  • Family Treatment Family Prison Visitation and Transportation program received “Volunteers of America/Annie E. Casey Foundation Family Strengthening Award” which recognizes programs that work toward improving child well-being by strengthening the entire family.
  •  Assumed ownership of Senior Partners Care program which helps low to moderate income Minnesotan’s who are on Medicare obtain treatment from participating hospitals, clinics, physicians and other healthcare providers, from the Minnesota Senior Federation which dissolved.
  • Completed renovation of North Park Plaza apartments under a HUD grant to increase affordable assisted living apartments for elderly and disabled individuals.
  • Acquired the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s foster care program. Opened office in St. Cloud for Mental Health Case Management and a satellite Mental Health Clinic.


  • Opened Avanti Center for Girls, located in Blaine, which provides shelter, evaluation and treatment services for adolescent females who exhibit emotional and behavioral problems.
  • Assumed operation of Phoenix High School which is a Minneapolis Public Schools Alternative School which offers a small classroom environment and credit recovery opportunities.


  • Closed on the purchase of the corporate office building at 7625 Metro Boulevard and moved staff into the building.
  • Our Charter School Authorization program is one of eight outstanding charter school authorizers recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in its newly released publication, “Supporting Charter School Excellence Through Quality Authorizing.”
  • Completed a $6.4 million project to renovate an aging inner-city apartment building, now known as The Village at Franklin Station, to better serve people with disabilities and individuals and families at risk for homelessness.
  • Assumed ownership of Omegon, Inc., a nonprofit, dual-diagnosis residential treatment center for adolescents located in Minnetonka.
  • Opened Assisted Living program at Horn Terrace in Minneapolis. Alternative High School morphed into Service Adventure Leadership (SALT) High School and Opportunity High School.


  • Received five-year certification of full compliance with standards of the Council on Accreditation, one of the highest indicators of quality services, governance and management of social services organization.
  •  Received certification of full compliance with the standards of the Charities Review Council, which reviews accountability, governance, financial management, fundraising and ethical standards.
  • Foley residence was purchased to offer semi-independent living services for adults with intellectual disabilities.


  • Learning Center for Children becomes part of Volunteers of America of Minnesota, expanding our alternative school programming to highly mobile students in grades Kindergarten through Fifth. (July).
  •  Construction completed for Our Home permanent supportive housing providing four apartments for families in Isle (July).
  • Partnership with the Major League Baseball Player's Association; and related Minnesota Twins working with our Minnesota Action Team - youth who recruit students at their schools to volunteer.
  • New charter schools opening in September with Volunteers of America sponsorship:  Birch Grove Community School (Tofte, MN), EdVisions Off-Campus High School (Henderson, MN), Green Isle Community School (Green Isle, MN),  Mary McEvoy Early Literacy Academy (Minneapolis, MN),  Naytahwaush Community School (White Earth, MN) and Worthington Area Language Academy (Bigelow, MN).
  • Volunteers of America of Minnesota Family Treatment Program started Prison Visitation and Transportation Program to aid youth in visiting their mothers incarcerated in federal prisons.
  • Volunteers of America of Minnesota Mental Health Clinics is awarded a $250,000 grant to expand our Deaf and Hard and Hearing School-based Program and to develop a tele-mental health program to reach more children throughout the state.


  • Expansion of the High School to include a Night School serving primarily the Somali community. Acquisition of Orono Woods senior housing project, with 62 apartments for senior citizens (May).
  • Additional charter schools open under Volunteers of America sponsorship: Kaleidoscope Charter School (Rogers, MN) serving grades K-9, Minnesota North Star Academy (St. Paul, MN) serving grades 9-12 and New Visions School (Minneapolis, MN) serving grades pre-K - 6.
  • First Making A Difference fund-raising breakfast (October). Monroe Village senior housing project, with 51 apartments for senior citizens, opens at 1900 Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis (November).
  •  Volunteers of America of Minnesota assumes responsibility for the management of three senior housing projects owned by Volunteers of America, Inc.  (November).
  • Volunteers of America of Minnesota became certified by MN Department of Human Services to provide CTSS services for children in counties where we are also certified.  VOA obtains county certification in Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Sherburne County and Anoka County.


  • Two group homes for adults with developmental disabilities constructed in Milaca with HUD 811 funds, and opened to serve eight residents.
  •  Additional charter schools open under Volunteers of America sponsorship: Studio Academy (Rochester, MN) charter school, originally opening in 2000, serving students ages 15-21.  Also TrekNorth High School (Bemidji, MN) serving students in grades 9-12.
  • Hmong Elder Connections acquired from Institute for New Americans, enabling us to provide a drop-in day center, transportation, assistance accessing community resources, and ultimately adult day services for elders of the Hmong community. (October).


  • Volunteers of America of Minnesota certified by the Minnesota Charities Review Council as fully meeting the Council’s standards for the management and governance of nonprofit organizations. Two Volunteers of America RSVP volunteers recognized for their significant volunteer work by KARE 11 TV as part of their Eleven Who CARE recognition event (September). Volunteers of America of Minnesota Family Treatment Program started Children’s Mental Health Case Management Program to service youth and families with mental health issues in Hennepin County.


  • Volunteers of America of Minnesota is the first non-profit organization in the country to sponsor a charter school, with the opening of Harbor City International School (Duluth, MN).
  • A Volunteers of America RSVP volunteer recognized for his significant volunteer work by KARE-TV as part of their Eleven Who Care recognition event (September).


  • Care Options acquired from the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging (January), tracking nursing home vacancies on a fee basis. 
  • Women’s Recovery Center was established as the first center in the world providing both mental health and chemical dependency services for women who have experienced a life-time of involvement in prostitution (February).
  • Children's Residential Treatment Center acquired from Allina Health Systems (June).
  • Sponsorship of Greater St. Paul Retired and Senior Volunteer Program assumed from Regions Hospital (July).
  • MAO Senior Support Services, Inc. merger into Volunteers of America of Minnesota effective July 1, adding the provision of home health care, homemaker services  and full elder law services.
  • Alternative high school opened at 924 19th Avenue South, providing educational programming in small classrooms for students in grades 9-12 and facing significant challenges in seeking to graduate from high school.
  • Volunteers of America of Minnesota begins participation in national Volunteers of America’s direct mail contribution program (December).
  • Volunteers of America of Minnesota begins participation in national Volunteers of America’s Enterprise car donation program. Volunteers of America of Minnesota among the agencies recognized by United Way of Minneapolis as Agencies of Excellence, in the first such selection.
  • Volunteers of America Mental Health Clinics partnered with ISD# 287 and Hennepin County to provide co-located mental health services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children at their various school program in Minneapolis and at ISD # 287 sites.


  • Protective Services program for seniors, providing advocacy for legal guardianship of senior citizens and training guardians, acquired from Fairview Hospitals.
  • House purchased in Mora to provide community-based apartment living for adults with developmental disabilities.
  • First charitable golf tournament event held to benefit Volunteers of America of Minnesota (September).


  • Contract with Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging for home delivered meals and congregate dining in Hennepin and Anoka Counties.
  • Alternative school for 4th through 8th graders opened at 2828 Eleventh Avenue South, Minneapolis.
  • Senior Resources, Inc. merger into Volunteers of America of Minnesota effective 12/31/98 at 11:59 PM.
  • Sponsorship of the East Central Retired and Senior Volunteer Program assumed.
  • The VOA Mental Health Clinic was awarded a three year grant from the MN Department of Corrections to develop a comprehensive aftercare program for youth in the Bar None Program.
  • House purchased in Princeton to provide community-based foster home for adults with developmental disabilities.


  • New secure, intensive treatment units for adolescents with conduct disorders opened at Bar-None. Mental health clinic opened at Bar-None, and a satellite clinic opened in Golden Valley.


  • Thirteen bed residential facility opened in Columbia Heights for adults with chronic, persistent mental illness.


  • Bar-None evaluation unit for children opened. CornerStone Transition Housing and childcare program for homeless women and their children opened on the Galloway property on Mille Lacs Lake.


  • Purchased Elder Homestead, a 29-unit assisted living facility in Minnetonka that was developed in 1986 by Altcare, a joint venture of General Mills and The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. This acquisition marked VOA’s entry into the burgeoning field of assisted living.


  • Contract with Hennepin County for home delivered meals for persons on Alternative Care/Elderly Waiver program, for Community Alternatives for Disabled Individuals, and for Traumatic Brain Injury clients.


  • Home purchased in Mora for elderly persons with developmental disabilities.


  • Home purchased in Princeton as a four bed foster home for adults with developmental disabilities.


  • Galloway facilities reprogrammed from children to residential units for the elderly and for adults with developmental disabilities.
  • Settevig House purchased in Mora as a four bed foster home for adults with developmental disabilities.
  •  Bar-None programming shifted from children with autism to emergency shelter for children; secure programming for boys with conduct disorders initiated; and residential treatment for emotionally disturbed children continues.


  • Bar-None program for children with conduct disorders opened.


  • Stevencroft Home acquired in St. Paul for youth and young adults with autism ready to leave Bar-None.  Headquarters moved to 5905 Golden Valley Road.


  • Volunteers of America of Minnesota incorporated on December 23 as independent, statewide non-profit corporation with local board of directors.


  • Woodview Home for Boys leased from Ramsey County and opened as Regional Correctional Center for Women.


  • Grant received from the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging for operation of the congregate dining program for senior citizens in Hennepin and Anoka Counties.


  • Nicollet Towers opened in September as a mix of family and elderly housing with 306 town house and apartment units; construction price $11,000,000.


  • Headquarters moved to 6007 Golden Valley Road.


  • Timberlane Group Home for emotionally disturbed girls was acquired near Milaca.  Nursing home opened in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota.


  • Treatment foster home program opened.


  • Supreme Court ruling permitted the Lake Street building to be used as a correctional center, and the girls group home moved to Portland Avenue.


  • Purchased Edina 162 bed nursing home for $2,136,300.


  • Nursing home operation established as separate non-profit corporation and division of national office as Volunteers of America Care Facilities.


  • Galloway Boys Ranch on Mille Lacs Lake acquired; five group homes constructed and a school building built in 1980.  The eleven story Loring Towers opened with 208 apartments for senior housing in June, constructed for $3,500,000 as a HUD 202 project.
  • Crystal nursing home purchased for $1,850,000.


  • Maplewood nursing home with 176 beds purchased for $1,690,000.


  • Lake Street building used as emergency shelter for dependent and neglected children which moved to a building at Portland and Grant Streets in 1971, and then as a group home for girls. 
  •  Longfellow Residence emergency shelter for boys and girls opened at 3000 29th Avenue South in Minneapolis.  In 1971, reprogrammed as Rewey Belle Inglis Group Home for Girls.


  • Received the Trade Center building at 510 First Avenue North, adjacent to the Butler Square Building, as a donation; sold in 1975.


  • Colonial Group Home opened at 6424 Winsdale Avenue in Golden Valley, with the support of the Colonial Church of Edina; program closed in 1978.


  • Mortuary at 2825 East Lake Street was purchased for $110,000 on December 29 for use as a halfway house.  Because of neighborhood opposition, the correctional program (pre-release center for federal prisoners) was operated from 1968-1974 in a building purchased at 2728 Portland Avenue.  Community group home opened at Cleveland and Selby in St. Paul; closed in 1967.


  • City headquarters opened at 900 Hennepin Avenue.


  • Anderson home purchased for $10,000 and added to Bar-None.


  • Bar-None residential program with staffed housing begins operation for eleven boys with on-site school.  Residents attended this school until the Crossroads school was opened in 1994.


  • 80 acre farm purchased for $7000 and added to Bar-None.


  • Land purchased near Anoka for current Bar-None Ranch, for $200,000.  Later, an additional forty acres was added.  A weekend camping program was launched, which became the residential program.


  • 317-319 Plymouth Avenue North purchased as a social service and recreation center, with an emphasis on "strengthening family life".


  • Volunteers of America in Minneapolis, Inc. incorporated on June 29.  43 acre farm purchased on Dutch Lake for Bar-None Ranch for $7500.  This property sold to the YMCA in 1955 for their Camp Christmas Tree.


  • St. Paul chapter acquired headquarters at 349 Washington Avenue, on Rice Park, which included a senior citizens club.  This became the site of the Ordway Theater.  Volunteers of America in St. Paul, Inc. incorporated on January 27.


  • 708 Globe Building was opened in Minneapolis as a social welfare agency serving general needs.


  • Sunday School opened at 9 North Second Street in Minneapolis, as the organization's first activity specifically for children.  This emerged into a summer camp and the first Bar None Ranch on Dutch Lake in Mound, Minnesota.


  • James J. Hill provided a 99-year lease on the family North Oaks Farm, for use as a summer Fresh Air Camp for mothers and children.  By 1925, thirty-six buildings had been constructed. Gilfillan Lake dried up in the 1930's, and in 1950 the family reclaimed the land, which became North Oaks.  The settlement provided funds to purchase twenty-five acres on Clear Lake, just south of Forest Lake and forty buildings were moved to the new site.


  • Minneapolis Industrial Department moved to 124 North First Street, until it closed in 1948.


  • Industrial Department opened in Minneapolis (115 North First Street) and St. Paul (393 North Smith), providing housing, clothing, and furniture for the poor.


  • Starr Home for Women established in St. Paul, for working young women.
  • Direct mail appeals launched for contributions.


  • Residential Home opened for women-who-work at 306 Second Avenue SE.  This program became the Andrick Club at 245 Oak Grove Street, until it closed in 1934; the building was sold in 1956.


  • Headquarters established at 94 Western Avenue.


  • Headquarters relocated to 24 Eastman Block (on Nicollet Avenue).


  • Volunteers of America is founded in New York, with a chapter organized in Minneapolis on April 24 at 29 Washington Avenue South; headquarters established at 104 Hennepin Avenue; Thanksgiving food baskets distributed in Winona.



In turn-of-the-century America, there was no shortage of work to do. The Volunteers moved into tenement districts to care for people in poverty. They organized day nurseries and summer camps, provided housing for single men and women, and established the nation's first system of halfway houses for released prisoners.


The Great Depression of the 1930s stretched the nation's private social welfare system almost to the breaking point. Volunteers of America mobilized to assist the millions of people who were unemployed, hungry and homeless. Relief efforts included employment bureaus, wood yards, soup kitchens, and "Penny Pantries" where every food item cost one cent.


Volunteers of America served proudly on the home front during both world wars. The group operated canteens, overnight lodging and Sunday breakfasts for soldiers and sailors on leave. Affordable housing and child care were provided for defense industry workers. Further, Volunteers of America spearheaded community salvage drives during World War II, collecting millions of pounds of scrap metal, rubber and fiber for the war effort.

THE 1960s

Our special mission in housing dates to our organization's founding. Volunteers of America helped accelerate real estate development during the 1960s by taking part in numerous federal housing programs. Since 1968, Volunteers of America has developed over 300 affordable housing complexes in more than 30 states.

THE 1970s

In the 1970s, the organization emerged as a major provider of professional long-term nursing care. Today, Volunteers of America not only offers home health care and related services, but owns and operates several nursing facilities, and assisted and independent living residences.

Now in our second century of service, Volunteers of America is one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive human services organizations, touching the lives of more than 2 million people each year in communities across the United States. Planning for the next 100 years, Volunteers of America will continue to prove that “there are no limits to caring.”