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Expanding service – Volunteer group raises goal

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One of the largest and oldest human services groups in the U.S. aims by 2002 to increase to two million from 1.5 million the number of people it serves.

Volunteers of America announced its goal as part of the celebration of its 104th birthday.

The group, which is merging with the National Retiree Volunteer Coalition, also officially opened its new headquarters in Northern Virginia.

The Alexandria-based organization uses 11,000 staff and 30,000 volunteers to deliver services to children and elderly, disabled and homeless individuals and families.

It says it is the largest provider of quality affordable housing for families, the elderly and people with disabilities, and is a major provider of skilled long-term nursing care and health services.

Volunteers of America has doubled its budget over the last five years to $491 million, says Carl Ericson, the group’s director of public relations.

Over the next two years, it plans to increase its budget to $600 million, he says, through a combination of fundraising, partnerships, grants and government contracts.

The group has made a concerted effort to build public awareness and to support local organizations with assistance in fundraising and developing partnerships.

Volunteers of America has local organizations in 40 states. They, in turn, have volunteer community boards of directors.

Overall in the U.S, more than 109 million individuals – or 56 percent of Americans — volunteered last year, according to Independent Sector, a nonprofit coalition and advocacy group. 

In its annual survey, Giving and Volunteering in the United States, the group also found that volunteering is increasing among minorities, involving 47 percent of blacks and 46 percent of Hispanics.

Women in all ethnic groups reported contributing more time than men did.

People who volunteer are more likely to make charitable donations, the survey found. More than 84 percent of contributions last year came from a household containing at least one volunteer.

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