Assistance League was the first nonprofit, nonpolitical, nonsectarian organization founded in the West to recognize the potential of volunteers in helping those less fortunate to a better, more meaningful life. Today, chapters across America address the emotional and physical needs of children and adults of all ages, regardless of race or creed.
- Our founder, Anne Banning, was a member of a small group of prominent Los Angeles women who did local charitable work beginning in the mid 1890s, calling it Assistance League.
- In April 1906, the women of Assistance League responded to the San Francisco earthquake and fire by collecting money and sewing clothes. The next year, the newspaper reported the women “wished to be a permanent organization and be of assistance to everyone who needs it.” When America entered the war in Europe, Anne Banning organized the Los Angeles Red Cross unit and served as director.
- In 1919, Anne Banning, co-founder Ada Edwards Laughlin and a group of 12 friends, formed Assistance League of Southern California (also known as Founder Chapter), to provide food and clothing for local families severely impacted by World War I.
- As needs in adjoining communities were recognized, other organizations wished to follow this philanthropic philosophy.
- Anne Banning and Ada Edwards Laughlin organized National Assistance League® in 1935 to promote the growth of effective volunteerism through leadership training and education.
- Nine organizations petitioned to be chartered as chapters by the time Anne and Ada retired in 1948.
- National Assistance League was incorporated in August 1949; the first meeting of the National Council was held the next month with representatives attending from ten chapters.
- In 1985, the first 50 years of service were celebrated: 72 chapters in 17 states with 16,155 dedicated volunteer members.
- Today we have more than 120 chapters with 23,000 member volunteers who gave 3.2 million service hours, returned $38.8 million to local communities and assisted 1.5 million people in need.
Assistance League members continue to fulfill Anne Banning’s philosophy of volunteer service: “To act as a friend at any and all times to men, women and children in need of care, guidance and assistance, spiritually, materially and physically.”