“IVC’s three volunteers become the hands and heart, the eyes and ears of God here. They meet every one of us, especially those most vulnerable, with open hearts and minds. With them, Joseph’s House hums with kindness, sings with love.”
-Executive Director, Joseph’s House, Washington, DC
The Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) is a national non-profit service organization that provides men and women, most aged 50 or better, with opportunities to serve others—to address social injustice—and to transform lives. IVC was founded in 1995 when two Jesuit priests, Jim Conroy, SJ, and Charlie Costello, SJ, gathered a small group of retired men and women in DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia to explore ways to minister to those who were materially poor while also gaining spiritual growth through service. Now more than 500 volunteers serve in 17 regions across the US.
Ignatian Volunteers, who are recruited and supported by IVC’s dedicated regional staff, typically serve two days a week for 10 months a year, and many volunteers renew that commitment year after year. Volunteers spend their time in local Service Sites that are identified as IVC partner organizations. These community organizations work directly with people who are materially poor or in organizations that address the structures that affect people who are poor. Volunteers tutor, advance literacy skills, help find jobs and housing, provide healthcare and companionship, and work to overcome poverty. They may also engage in counseling, administrative tasks, fund-raising, and more. Care is taken in matching a volunteer’s talents to an organization’s needs, but often volunteers discover and develop new skills when they choose to work at projects unrelated to their former job experience.
Ignatian Volunteers are guided through a reflection process based on The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. This process helps Volunteers discover the deeper meaning of the work they do and to see Christ more clearly as they labor among their brothers and sisters who are poor. Reflecting and praying in the Ignatian tradition—individually and communally—deepens the experience of service and is a unique feature of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps and a key reason that Volunteers return to IVC year after year and become so committed to the program and their service site.