From time to time, readers who are aware of my continuing interest in the fight to end homelessness ask what I think about various homeless advocacy groups and organizations.
I always decline to comment unless I can do so based on firsthand experience. There are many national, regional, and local groups and organizations with a history of impressive accomplishments--but with which I have had no personal contact.
There are, therefore, only a few I can wholeheartedly endorse. The Salvation Army, Family Promise, and the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition all do fantastic work which I have observed up close, and have written about often. The Home Van in Gainesville, Florida also does a great job on the local level.
But the organization with which I am most familiar--one for which I have great admiration and feel great appreciation--is Volunteers of America, which owns and operates the apartment complex where I live in north central Florida.
Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based, human services organization that is one of the largest, and best charities in America.
Founded in 1896, and based in Alexandria, Virginia, VOA offers assistance to seniors, veterans, the homeless, the addicted, the intellectually disabled, and the incarcerated.
Support programs are provided in 400 communities throughout the United States, and services are tailored to the needs of each local community, and therefore, vary from place to place. Amazingly, 89 cents out of every dollar spent goes to support vital community services for people in need.
Volunteers of America is rated a Four Star Charity, the highest possible ranking, by Charity Navigator, America's premier independent charity evaluator. Charity Navigator is generally considered the best guide for intelligent giving.
The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance provides further credibility, by advising that Volunteers of America meets the standards of charitable accountability.
VOA operates with efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency; while its people compassionately operate in a way that encourages, and energizes all those they serve.
I am, fortunately, and happily, one of those they serve.