Experience Making a Difference

Experience Making a Difference

With one foot raised… meet Ignatian Volunteer Corps member Jeanne Derwin

by | Feb 25, 2022

Jeanne Derwin serves at Community Caregivers in Guilderland and makes reassurance phone calls to the homebound. 

My desire to join IVC started the day I read Kate Burgess’ article in The Evangelist in April 2019. I can remember saying, “This is for me; I need to check it out as soon as I retire!”  I attended the commissioning of the new Ignatian Volunteers at the Hubbard Interfaith Sanctuary at the College of St. Rose in November 2019.  After the inspirational ceremony, I joined everyone for a social time where I met a group of energized, faith-filled, committed, and humble servants.  As I got into my car, I felt blessed beyond measure, and I resolved to someday join them when my schedule allowed.

Fast forward to April, 2021 when I had to quit my full-time, work-from-home job because of company mandates that conflicted with my treatment plan.  My leaving was a complete surprise and I found myself suddenly “retired” at 4pm on a Wednesday afternoon!  After the initial shock, I realized this was now my opportunity to seriously consider IVC.

I was joining near the end of the service year, so I waited until the summer to find a place to serve.  However, Kate encouraged me to participate in the many spiritual offerings provided by IVC, both locally and nationally.  I was delighted to come onboard and meet everyone via Zoom and more fully discover the spiritual treasures in their hearts.   My faith was encouraged and renewed by IVC during a time that I had been attending Mass virtually for over a year.  I was adrift but, as God lovingly provides, IVC threw me a lifeline and pulled me to a safe shore: a calm harbor of faith-filled, self-giving, justice-loving friends inviting me to walk with them in bonded community.

By August, when different service opportunities were offered, I prayed that God would lead me to the place designed for me.  As is usually the case with Our Lord, our mile-markers are reached along non-linear paths.  But prayer, patience and creative persistence from Kate finally landed me with Community Caregivers in Albany, in a position where I make reassurance calls to those who need encouragement and social support as they remain largely isolated at home.  The people I currently call also have significant health issues and they feel supported by having someone with whom to process their diagnoses and medical recommendations.  They also feel free to confide regarding past trauma, family-system disappointments, and end-of-life decisions.  Only God could have found this very tailored niche for me.

As I reflect on the short time I have been serving in this capacity, I’m startled into renewed humility at the realization that I entered this position thinking I might be able to help others in some way — with navigating services, applying for benefits, staying optimistic, and finding social opportunities.  Such are my ideas when I run out ahead of God!  Fortunately, I’m always reigned in with Patience, “tap on the shoulder” Enlightenment, and with a garnish of Divine Sense-of-Humor.  I found out that my clients would be teaching ME what they wanted and needed; not the other way around.  As we are always challenged to do, it was time to listen more and just “be.”  Be there, be reliable, be available, be present, be loyal, be patient, be understanding.  Anything more is getting in God’s way.  And the amazing miracle is: these dear individuals that I regularly call are blessing me more than I could ever hope to bless them by making a difference.