Visionaries - Changing the World One Story at a Time

Season 02

Volunteers of America

Volunteer and the homelessOne hundred years ago, Maud and Ballington Booth acted upon their desire to help others by starting the Volunteers of America. VOA has grown into one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the US, operating over 400 human service programs nationwide. The Visionaries visited four of them:

The Charles Gay Shelter in Wards Island, New York City offers nearly 1000 homeless men a place of hope and transition.

In Shreveport, Louisiana, Ron Anderson directs several after-school programs for youth of all ages. Anderson himself was a troubled teen given just the sort of second chance he now offers to hundreds of kids each year through the Lighthouse.

Bill Nelson, the director of the only correctionalfacility for women operated by a nonprofit organization, believes that inmates need "tough love," that they be treated with dignity and respect, and that every inmate -- every human being -- has worth.

A Meals on Wheels program delivering 3,000 hot meals a day and warm greetings to senior citizens in Denver. Shows 201 & 202.


The Birthing UnitHadassah was founded in 1912 by Henrietta Szold and 12 members of the Daughters of Zion Study Circle who dedicated themselves to "the healing of the daughter of my people." It has grown to be the largest Jewish women's volunteer organization in America with more than 300,000 members. Membership spans generations: mothers, daughters, and granddaughters carry on a Jewish tradition of service. Working not only in their own communities, the women of Hadassah have been bringing state-of-the-art medical facilities and health technology to Israel aswell as educating and retraining generations of immigrants and native Israelis. At the extensive and widely respected Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem, Jewish, Moslem and Christian professionals work together in a city torn by centuries of religious and ethnic conflict. Show 203.


PACTDavid Walker is known as the "father of literacy" to everyone in the small Himalayan country of Nepal. Having first visited as a Peace Corps Volunteer, he returned to Nepal nearly 18 years ago with his family to begin work on literacy training in the country with one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world and an adult literacy rate estimated at 35%. Women traditionally have been excluded from the education system, but David Walker has created an extensive curriculum to teach the reading and writing of Nepalese to 350,000 women in just 2 years, in some of the most remote regions of Nepal. Why teach the women and not the men? Because these women have the opportunity to teach their children, also passing on this skill through generations. Drawings of village situations are the basis for building a vocabulary for the students. Now they attain the tools needed to contribute to the economic and social development of their own villages by increasing their participation in the decisions affecting their lives. Show 204.


Visionaries' Bruce Lundeen and Bosnian KidsIn partnership with corporations donating medical supplies, food and equipment for international relief efforts, AmeriCares delivers whatever is needed when it is needed most. Founded in 1982 by businessman Bob Macauley, the organization also operates domestic programs, including a summer camp for chronically ill children, a long-term health care program, and housing rehabilitation projects. On New Year's Eve 1995, AmeriCares and The Visionaries set out on a mission to war-torn Bosnia, rushing desperately needed supplies to hospitals and orphanages and delivering hope with a free concert for the people of Sarajevo. Shows 205 & 206.