General Questions about IVC
- I’d like to volunteer with IVC, but I don’t see my city listed on the website. Does this mean I can’t apply? IVC has a strong local characteristic to it, and we are currently only in those regions listed above. We are constantly looking to expand to other regions, so if you are interested in IVC please sign up for our mailing list so we can keep in touch.
- I’m attracted to volunteering, but the spiritual reflection component doesn’t appeal to me. Can I still take part? IVC is a two-part commitment—volunteering two days per week with people who are materially poor and participating in the spiritual reflection program. While many people are initially more motivated by the volunteer service component, it is quite common that volunteers come to value the Spiritual Reflection component of their experience as critical to their service, as it helps them to see their service in the context of their faith. We encourage you to talk with an IVC Regional Director about your particular desire to serve before deciding about whether or not IVC is right for you.
- How is IVC different from other volunteer service programs? The most distinguishing characteristics of IVC are the significant commitment asked of Ignatian volunteers and the spiritual reflection program provided to volunteers. There are more people than ever, 50 years and greater, who are healthy, active, and desire to “give back” for all they have been given. In addition, unlike the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, primarily for people just entering the workforce from college, Ignatian volunteers live in their own homes and volunteer in their local communities. Because of this, they are not provided a living stipend for their service.
Questions for those interested in becoming an Ignatian Volunteer
- How long is the IVC commitment? When does it start? IVC requires a minimum commitment of one year, which generally begins in September and ends in late June. Some volunteers begin service mid-year.
- I’ve been a stay-at-home parent or homemaker all my adult life and have never been in the professional work force. Can I still volunteer? Absolutely. Rearing children and keeping up a home are important full time jobs. Your particular gifts may be very desirable to certain agencies. Provided you are over 50, your children are independent, and your obligations at home will allow you to commit to two days per week, IVC encourages you to apply.
- Do I need to have a Jesuit education or background? No. You don’t need a Jesuit education or background, but you should be open to learning more about Ignatian spirituality and the possibility of working with a Jesuit spiritual reflector.
- Do I need special skills, certification, or knowledge of a foreign language? You don’t need any special skills, certification, or knowledge of a foreign language to participate in IVC. However, some placement sites may require special credentials or fluency in another language for certain positions. Volunteers who have special skills, such as law degrees, teaching certificates or medical licenses may be able to find placements where they can use their credentials if they wish.
- Do volunteers live together in community? Ignatian Volunteers do not live together—they live in their own homes. In a very real way, though, a community spirit grows from the regular participation of Volunteers at monthly meetings, retreats and days of reflection.
- What are the financial considerations on the part of the volunteer? Ignatian Volunteers do not pay an application fee or membership dues, nor do they receive a stipend from either IVC or their placement site. It is worth noting, however, that the IVC organization operates in large part on the support of Service Sites that pay a modest annual Partnership Fee to IVC. These fees ensure that future Ignatian Volunteers will be around in the community for years to come.
- Why does IVC suggest two days a week of volunteering with a Service Site? It was the judgment of IVC’s founders that volunteering two days each week allows the optimal conditions for an Ignatian Volunteer to develop relationships at a Service Site, to provide enough depth within the service experience to provide food for reflection, to assist the Service Site with the Volunteer’s consistency and continuity. Two days a week will also allow the Ignatian Volunteer to pursue his/her own personal interests and maintain family, church, friend and community relationships. The IVC program is not for everyone. There are many other service opportunities for older adults but what IVC offers is a depth of experience and a unique reflection system and support to sustain and deepen a service commitment.
- Does IVC provide transportation? Transportation to and from your work at the Service Site and to and from your monthly meetings are the responsibility of the Ignatian Volunteer. In most IVC regions, public transportation is an option for Ignatian Volunteers who do not have a car or who do not want to drive. For IVC retreats and days of prayer, often the Regional Director facilitates carpooling arrangements. If transportation is a concern for you, please discuss this with the IVC Regional Director in your area.
- What are the qualifications for being a volunteer? IVC welcomes applications from persons who are
- Mature, typically 50 years or better;
- Available (typically 2 days a week, 10 months) to serve;
- Self-motivated, mature, and financially stable
- Open and flexible, thus suited for new and unexpected situations
- Drawn to serving people who are materially poor
- Willing to participate in IVC’s spiritual reflection program
- In good physical and emotional health
- How do I apply and what happens when I do? If you want to apply, contact either the National IVC Office or your local Regional Director to converse about your interests and desires. An application and other materials will be sent to you. The IVC application asks about your background and work experience, a self-evaluation, two references (one work reference and one spiritual reference) and other questions that help us determine what service placements for you to consider. Once the completed application is returned to IVC, you will be contacted about an in-person interview.
- I am still employed. Can I still volunteer? While most Ignatian Volunteers are fully retired from work, others are still working part-time. The key factor is whether you can commit to serving two days per week during the IVC year (September through June). Increasingly we know that many employed people begin planning for their retirement early, so we encourage you to sign up for the IVC newsletter or contact your local Regional Director. This way we can stay in touch with you for whenever you have the time to volunteer.
- Is IVC difficult? For most people who have never worked in the non-profit world, working in such a setting can be an unfamiliar and challenging experience. Yet it also generally proves to be fulfilling because your consistency, maturity and skills will be so prized and appreciated. IVC’s spiritual reflection program was designed to help you with whatever transitions you may experience. More than 75% of Ignatian Volunteers renew their commitment every year, so despite the difficulties, being an Ignatian Volunteer is usually an enriching and deepening experience.
- Can married couples apply and work together? Married couples sometimes join IVC together. They may either work together at the same site or at different ones. Each partner must apply and be accepted independently.
- Do I need a college degree? No. Individuals with different educational backgrounds and work experience are encouraged to apply.
- What about insurance? Ignatian Volunteers are responsible for their own health insurance. IVC’s partner Service Sites include Ignatian Volunteers in their own liability insurance coverage, as they would any of their other volunteers in case of work-related injuries.
- What kind of volunteer positions are available? This depends on the needs of IVC partner Service Sites in the area where you live. Some sites directly serve the needs of poor people. Other sites address the structures of injustice which affect poor people. Ignatian Volunteers work in literacy and education programs for youths and adults, in soup kitchens and shelters, in healthcare settings, and in counseling programs for those with legal, housing, financial and immigration needs. IVC works to find its volunteers meaningful service opportunities. Contact your local IVC Regional Director about the specific needs of sites in your area of the country.
- How am I assigned to a Service Site? After you have applied, interviewed and then been accepted into IVC, you will typically be given two or three Service Sites to visit. You will select the one that you believe is the best match for you.
- Can I switch Service Sites if I’m not at peace with my selection? You will be asked to give the Service Site a fair try. Then, after that, if you are not at peace, you can explore with your Regional Director what other volunteer opportunities exist for that year.
- What would my hours be like? Do I have to work weekends or evenings? What about vacation time? IVC asks you to commit to the equivalent of two days a week of service but the specific hours and days you work out with your Service Site supervisor, depending on your availability and the organization’s needs. Time off for vacations, illness, family obligations, or emergencies can be negotiated between you and the Service Site, while keeping the IVC staff informed. Most IVC Service Sites placements allow you to make up for missed time by working some extra days before or after your absence, or by extending your commitment into the summer.
- My volunteer site said they really need me during the summer when much of their staff goes on vacation. Is this something I should be considering? Ignatian Volunteers make a minimum commitment of two days per week from September through June. If you wish to work through the summer, and the site is agreeable to that, then you may do so. Many Ignatian Volunteers find that having July and August free helps them get refreshed and whets their appetite for their return to volunteering in September.
- Should I be concerned about crime in the area where I am volunteering? Most volunteer placements are in urban areas where crime may be a factor of life. All volunteer placement sites have thought about safety issues and will have helpful advice for their staff and volunteers. In general, Ignatian Volunteers are encouraged to stay aware of their surroundings, not to take unnecessary risks, and to develop a familiar presence with their colleagues so that they become a part of the local community. Many Ignatian Volunteers talk of having some initial safety concerns, only to have them set aside as they became more comfortable in their new surroundings.
- How strictly does IVC interpret two days per week? IVC trusts that its staff, you and IVC’s partner Service Site will develop a schedule which meets IVC’s two-days-a-week, 10-months-a-year commitment. You may want to factor in your driving time if you have a long commute. You and the Service Site may opt to spread your work out over three or four days. You may want to count the time you spend in spiritual reflection as your commitment. You may never truly appreciate the impact that your presence, talents and commitment have on your Service Site, but your faithful and generous service will have an impact on you and others at the Service Site. At the end of the week, you will want to know that you have worked two honest days (even if they aren’t full eight-hour days) in service to people who are poor.
- What about the volunteer work I’m doing now? Talk this over with your Regional Director. IVC has its own set of criteria regarding partnerships with Service Sites. It is IVC’s job to present the benefits of IVC to a Service Site in order to determine whether a partnership is possible or not.
- Who are “the poor” that Ignatian Volunteers serve? While there are many types of poor, the charism of IVC is to work with those who are materially poor. There are many agencies that serve the needs of a variety of persons who are in need, but who may not be materially poor (e.g., sick people, elderly people). Ignatian Volunteers work primarily with partner Service Sites that serve the needs of the materially poor.
Questions for organizations interested in partnering with IVC.
- What are the financial considerations on the part of an organization that receives an Ignatian Volunteer? Service sites that have an Ignatian Volunteer pay a modest partnership fee per year for each volunteer they receive to help IVC offset the costs of recruitment, screening and providing program material for the volunteers. Sites that have requested a volunteer but currently do not have one are not under any financial obligation to IVC.
- Our organization would like to receive an IVC volunteer, but we might not be able to pay the partnership fee. Does this mean we can never receive a volunteer? The partnership fee is an important source of support for the IVC program, which IVC uses to help offset the costs of recruiting and screening volunteers, as well as providing them with our unique spiritual support program. We encourage the interested site to approach their board of directors or the persons responsible for setting the budget to discuss this fee. In certain circumstances, this fee can be mitigated through a bartering arrangement or the partnership fee can be waived or negotiated on a case by case basis.
Spiritual Support Program
Questions about IVC’s unique Spiritual Support Program for Volunteers.
- What do you mean by “spiritual reflection”? Spiritual reflection is one of the two essential components that define IVC, the other being service work with materially poor people. Spiritual reflection is the process of discerning where God is present in your volunteer work. The elements of IVC’s spiritual support program are personal reflection (e.g. journaling), one-on-one reflection with a Spiritual Reflector, monthly meetings with other Ignatian Volunteers, and three annual retreats or days of reflection per year. Click here for more information on IVC’s Spiritual Support Program.
- I’m attracted to IVC’s Spiritual Reflection element, but volunteering to help poor people doesn’t appeal to me. Can I still take part?IVC is a two-part commitment: volunteering typically two days per week with people who are materially poor and participating in the Spiritual Support Program. If you are interested in Spiritual Reflection without volunteering, then IVC may not be the right program for you. We encourage you to contact your pastor, a local spiritual director or other Ignatian resources.
- I’m attracted to Volunteering, but Spiritual Reflection doesn’t appeal to me. Can I still take part? IVC is a two-part commitment: volunteering typically two days per week with people who are materially poor and participating in the Spiritual Support Program. If you are interested in volunteering but not taking part in IVC’s Spiritual Support Program, then IVC may not be right for you. We have discovered that most people come to IVC after a period of reflection. God has been working inside them, quietly and peacefully, creating a desire to serve. We encourage you to talk with an IVC Regional Director about your particular desire to serve before deciding about whether or not IVC is right for you.