The First Travelers Aid
The Travelers Aid movement actually began in 1851, when Bryan Mullanphy, a former mayor of St. Louis and philanthropist, bequeathed $500,000 to the city of St. Louis to be used to assist “bona fide travelers heading west,” primarily women and children traveling alone.
Travelers Aid Society of New York
The Travelers Aid Society of New York was founded in 1907 by Grace Hoadley Dodge. The organization’s primary purpose was to provide social work to women traveling alone in order to protect them from moral danger, specifically white slave trafficking.
The Travelers Aid Society of Washington (D.C.) was founded in 1913 by the YWCA and began assisting travelers at the relatively new Union Station. Travelers Aid volunteers were at Union Station in March 1913 to help visitors navigate the city for the first inauguration of Woodrow Wilson.
National Travelers Aid Association
The first National Travelers Aid Association was founded in 1917, created to serve all people regardless of gender, age, class, race or religion. Travelers Aid welcomed immigrants to the United States, with operations at or near many ports of entry.
United Service Organizations (USO)
In 1941, just prior to World War II, President Roosevelt called on the National Travelers Aid Association and five other national organizations to form one entity charged with boosting U.S. military morale. And the USO was born.
Washington National Airport
When the federal government opened the new Washington National Airport in 1941, the USO was an established presence there. In 1947, after World War II was over, the Travelers Aid Society of Washington took over the USO responsibilities at the facility.
New York JFK International Airport
In 1957, Travelers Aid opened its first information booth at what was then known as Idlewood International Airport, renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1964 following the 35th president’s assassination in 1963.
Washington Dulles International Airport
The Travelers Aid program at Washington Dulles was launched in 1963, with one desk on the Baggage Claim level. The program now has 14 locations, making it one of the busiest airport programs run by Travelers Aid International.
Newark International Airport
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, seeing a need to improve its customer service at Newark International Airport, instituted a Travelers Aid Program there in 1992.
Bradley International Airport
Travelers Aid began operating at Bradley International Airport in October 2018 with a group of 40 dedicated senior volunteers. The program now includes students, young professionals and working adults, and now numbers 65 volunteers.
Philadelphia International Airport
Travelers Aid began operating at Philadelphia International Airport on June 1, 2021, with a small group of volunteers from the Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area. In the past two months, the program has grown to 41 volunteers, with hopes of expanding to 250 members down the road.
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