“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…”
As with every organization IVC has seasons: recruiting season, orientation season, service season, fundraising season and finally a season to rest over the summer before the cycle is set in motion again.
This is recruiting season and recently while visiting an elementary school interested in an IVC volunteer for the coming year I was asked how volunteers were recruited. I hesitated slightly before answering and then gave the standard answer: IVC uses announcements in church bulletins, word of mouth and information meetings held throughout the year as ways to attract volunteers. While this is a straightforward explanation of the volunteer recruitment process it falls short which prompted my hesitation in answering the question. The process actually involves much more that cannot be explained or measured.
There is a question on the IVC volunteer application that directly asks, “Why do you want to join the Ignatian Volunteer Corps?” Answers are as varied as applicants:
- To explore opportunities on how to become a World-class Christian.
- …to make LA an even better place for my family and neighbors to live.
- Service to community is critically important to my spiritual health and all my education and experience compels me to explore the Ignatian path.
- Being of service to others in some way is always on my mind. God and my mother are leading me in this direction.
- I want to convert my desire for public service into a sense of Christian mission within the realities of a support group.
- I want structure in volunteering/doing God’s work.
- I believe involvement with IVC will deepen my faith through reflection, fellowship and service.
The very word recruit has a no nonsense tone to it. To recruit is to engage, employ, conscript, or enroll and while this is exactly what we do at IVC when we offer information and do our best to market the organization it is not only IVC at a local or national level that draws the volunteers in and keeps them engaged. It is a deeper process that involves prayer and a period of discernment for each volunteer to determine if IVC is the conduit that will add meaning to their life.
In the end a Regional Director can have laudable marketing and leadership skills that draw individuals to learn more about the work of IVC. They can have a rigorous interview process and a comprehensive application to fill out. They can cite rules for belonging to IVC and quote manuals but ultimately God intervenes and brings men and women to IVC in search of deepening their connection to God through service to people who are poor and in need.
In my six years with IVC it is the spiritual component that draws volunteers to IVC and keeps them year after year. It is the time spent each month to share and listen to others and to reflect and pray together that is the glue of the group.
The recruitment process itself is somewhat like a dance. Someone leads and someone follows – at times this changes, slows down, or speeds up depending on the circumstances. The leader can become the follower and vice versa because everyone involved is an adult seeking to deepen their connection to God and everyone has wisdom, experience and faith to share. One thing remains constant in the recruitment process though, God is ultimately in charge, calling, coaxing, inspiring, and bringing each individual to ask if this is the time?
Anne Hansen is Regional Director for IVC Los Angeles and has written a column for the Tidings newspaper for many years (nearly 20)—Family Time. She co-authored Culture-Sensitive Ministry (Paulist Press, 2010) and offers workshops and retreats throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.