Dear Friends of IVC,
Want to hear a love story?
We are delighted to announce the launch of IVC’s largest corps of volunteers in its history. This fall 441 men and women begin or renew their work in partner agencies all across this country for the coming year.
Commissioned to homeless shelters, schools, hospitals, emergency services sites, employment training sites and hundreds of other organizations serving people working to overcome the challenges of poverty, these volunteers bring their life experiences, professional training and their God-given talents to one purpose: to love their neighbor and to give to them the very best they can so that they may know what it means to be loved and to have real hope. How do they do this? They tutor, mentor, serve food, provide hospice care, nurse, lead workshops, design programs, and provide legal aid and countless other actions in direct service. They also expand the capacity of service agencies, working in accounting, strategic planning, fundraising and other staff roles so agencies can serve more people with their limited, often restrictive resources.
How do they love? With gentleness and firmness, with smiles, joy, dedication, intelligence and patience. One of the utter joys of my own life is meeting an IVC volunteer. There is nothing that can compare to the bright light I see in their faces when they share with me what they do in their service. It truly is like talking to someone in love. They are in love and of love….. God’s love. In sixteen cities across the country.
Thousands are touched by that love. And then you want more? Talk to those who they teach, feed, aid, serve. Those faces truly beam with love…love for their IVC volunteer tutor, mentor, friend. Love for their new found hope. Peace that comes when you have grown up hurt, lost, abused, neglected and marginalized and you experience that someone does care…for YOU. And you begin to think “Maybe I matter. Maybe I can hope. Maybe there is a God.”
Let me tell you of one recent service visit I had that was an extraordinary morning of that inspiring love in service. Most of you know that the work of IVC swells in ability through the financial support of charitable donors and foundations who seek to build up our world through their philanthropy. This partnership between agency and donor or foundation is a fruitful partnership for good. One day last month, one of IVC’s strongest philanthropic supporters, the Raskob Foundation, joined IVC on a service site visit to one of IVC’s service sites: Hopeworks ‘n Camden.
In the midst of crime and povery, Hopeworks ‘n Camden, led by Jesuit Fr. Jeff Putthoff, uses education, technology and entrepreneurship to partner with young men and women as they identify and earn a sustainable future. Camden, NJ is the city with the highest crime rate in the nation. In this setting, young people’s future can look very bleak. But Hopeworks offers alternative paths to success. Watch this video for more. The pains of injustice and poverty heal in places such as Hopeworks where IVC places volunteers. The Ignatian Volunteer there this year will work with youth to create a new literacy program with a youth newsletter and online magazine, implement a leadership curriculum and will help prepare students for the GED exam. The light from this work will beam for years to come. Agency, volunteers and foundation came together in service and support. The Raskob Family Foundation’s service and support to Catholic organizations shines not only in their financial support but also in how they live their faith.
Rolling up their sleeves, members of the board of Trustees of the Raskob Family Foundation along with members of their family spent the morning helping plant the first Esperanza Garden orchard. Digging, planting side by side with the young people of Hopeworks and the volunteers we were all just people working together to plant not just trees but seeds of hope. After a full morning of hard work together, what an inspiration to watch a group of people who under no other circumstance would find themselves at the same table sharing a meal, talking and laughing together. For a few hours barriers of poverty and wealth were gone, happiness reigned and I swear you could hear that phrase “on earth as it is in Heaven” echo around the room.
In a homily April 24 of this year, Pope Francis stressed “The Church is not an NGO. It is a love story!” The community of IVC—Volunteers, service agencies and donors—is the Church’s love story alive today.
And you, good readers, are part of that story! Thank you for all you do to support IVC. Please join with me in wishing our volunteers a wonderful year of service. Keep them and those they serve in your prayers. And celebrate with all of us the incredible growth in our Corps! Talk about a love story!
Mary C. McGinnity, National Executive Director