Volunteers of America

An evangelical, social welfare organization founded in 1896 at New York City by Ballington Booth, son of Salvation Army leader William Booth, because his father refused to democratize the Army's administration. Retaining the quasi-military character of the Salvation Army,* the Volunteers hold nondenominational Protestant services and Bible classes, distribute Christian literature, comfort the aged in hospitals, and serve prisoners through the Volunteer Prisoners League. Dispensing social and material aid to over 2 million annually at nearly 600 service centers, they operate girls' homes, rehabilitation centers, summer camps, and day nurseries. Led by Maud Charlesworth Booth, Ballington's widow, from 1940 to 1948 and by their son Charles Brandon Booth after that, they now number about 33,000.