Rebuilding lives and regaining independence

Community development investing |

Praxis supports hundreds of programs provided by Volunteers of America to help those in need

Serving 1.5 million people a year in over 400 communities, 46 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, Volunteers of America is dedicated to helping those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential.

Volunteers of America is a faith-based, nonprofit organization that provides hundreds of services to disadvantaged communities, including housing, housing assistance and health care. Since 1896, the organization has supported some of America's most vulnerable groups, including veterans, at-risk youths, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, people with disabilities and those recovering from addictions. The organization is made up of nearly 16,000 employees and around 60,000 volunteers.

Christine Rowsey discovered Volunteers of America while working towards her dream of becoming a nurse. After being laid off from her job as a financial risk analyst and having her car repossessed, Rowsey worried about how she would attend classes with no vehicle. 

Nurse holding her diploma

Rowsey found the Volunteers of America Michigan’s “Cars Helping People” lot in Pontiac. The lot contains donated vehicles available at fair prices for people in need. Rowsey worked out a payment plan as was able to continue classes at Oakland University’s licensed practical nursing (LPN) program. But Rowsey now worried about how she could repay the loans she took out for her education.

Rowsey discovered another Volunteers of America Michigan program – Health Profession Opportunity Grants. She applied and was accepted. The program linked Rowsey with Rene DeLoach, a health profession employment specialist for Volunteers of America. DeLoach guided and gave Rowsey support while she completed her coursework, earned her license and applied for jobs. “Nursing school was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and Volunteers of America helped me through it,” Rowsey said. “They helped me rewrite my life, the way I wanted it to be written.”

Andrew Chilton is another example of the many millions of people who have benefited from Volunteers of America programs. Chilton was diagnosed with Asperger’s at 8 years old. After doctors and school officials predicted that he might not graduate from high school, his mom, Cindy, signed him up for an attendant to provide after-school care, through the Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana program. 

Woman with young man sitting at a computer

Chilton was matched with Christy Chachere, who noticed the family’s attempts to shield him from life’s hardships. “You have to let him fail,” she told the family. “It’s the only way he’s going to learn. To be able to do things on his own.”Family members agreed that Chilton should do his own homework and write his own papers. Soon the family noticed a change. When Chilton returned home from school, he would get a snack and begin his homework by himself, with Chachere nearby. Chilton explained how Chachere showed him how to get organized and coached him on how to deal with frustrations and difficulties. “She understood autism,” Chilton said. “It turned out she was really nice.”

With Chachere’s help, Chilton became more independent. He graduated from high school and moved into his own apartment above the family’s garage. Chilton now attends community college and is working toward an associate’s degree in video game design.

Rowsey and Chilton were able to gain their independence and complete a college education with the help of Volunteers of America programs.

Praxis Mutual Funds® supports organizations such as VOA through investments in Calvert Impact Capital, an impact-investing institution that helps people around the world through community development financing. It’s part of the Praxis commitment to place approximately 1 percent of each of its funds to benefit neighborhoods and individuals through community development investments.

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Author Megan Bower
Marketing Intern

Community Development Investing

Discover how Praxis helps provide economic opportunity for disadvantaged individuals and communities around the world and learn more about our corporate initiatives to see how we make a difference.