A couple of years after I retired as a mental health counselor, I was being "tugged" to find a way to do something meaningful, some kind of volunteer work. My husband and I attended a Lenten retreat given by a favorite Jesuit Priest. The event was sponsored by IVC and we shared a table with the couple who brought IVC to Omaha. What I heard felt so "right" to me, we met with the local IVC Director to learn more.
She suggested I visit the Children and Family Center of Nebraska Children's Home Society in Omaha's inner city. I met an older African American woman who asked if I might be interested in working with her to develop a programs for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. I sure was interested! We put our heads together and things just "clicked" - we got along great, and seemed to energize each other. We designed a six-week support & educational group. That was almost four years ago and we just completed the 13th group. The grandparents let us know that they needed support beyond the six weeks, so we developed an ongoing support group that meets twice monthly.
I have felt all along that this was right where I was supposed to bed; that God had led me there, and I continue to feel incredibly blessed by the grandparents I meet and the unbelievable stories they share about their family situations. The desperately need support.
God continues to bless this awesome work. The program has won recognition from a local foundation as "the most innovative new program" and has received funding from United Way and other local funding sources. That success is calling attention to the plight of these grandparents who have taken on the incredible challenge of once again raising children and who are usually living in poverty. Personally, I have been blessed to become familiar with a world that my white, middle class life experience had never shown me. It has made me so much more sensitive and understanding; they continue to teach me so much!
Four years ago, I retired as from my position in development at a local high school where I had served for 26 years. I was seeking ways to enhance my spiritual life in retirement and attended a Day of Reflection sponsored by our local Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC). The retreat reminded me of how much and why I value my Jesuit education and I contacted the director and asked how I might get involved. She invited me to join IVC where I have now been a member for nearly three years. It is an experience I would not trade for anything. My first volunteer assignment entailed assisting the administrator of several of our Catholic schools with development. It was a challenging and rewarding task as we realized the fruits of our efforts. Currently I volunteer at a private elementary school which serves a predominantly minority population. I assist with office and administrative duties as well as lunch preparation and serving. The latter is a particular favorite because of the opportunity to interact with the students and, if I'm lucky, garner a hug or two. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the closeness of our IVC community. I look forward to our monthly meetings, discussing the readings and reflections, and sharing our spirituality with one another. I have developed a deeper understanding of Ignatian spirituality through these interactions as well as a renewed appreciation for my faith.
After 22 years in the USAF and 22 years in industry, I retired with a MSEE with minor in math. After a couple retired years, I was looking for things to keep my mind active as I was keeping my body active by bike riding long distances. I went to a retreat sponsored by my local parish where I learned about IVC. My wife and I decided to join to share our skills and help nonprofits. I was matched to a catholic highschool where I tutored students struggling with math. After a couple of years, I was asked to help teach an AP Calculus BC dual credit course. I help the teacher by looking through the days assignment making sure I understood all the math and homework problems. I assist the teacher during the class with the lesson, check the homework and answer questions. This frees the teacher to spend more time on other classes he is teaching.
I have really enjoyed sharing my skills and especially enjoy working with students. This has really helped me keep my mind sharp as a math students at this level knows when you don't know the subject. The best part of being a volunteer with IVC is they are just as interested in your satisfaction with your placement as they are with satisfying the nonprofit's needs.
My wife and I always really appreciated the Jesuit Priest who occasionally said Mass at our church. So, we decided to go to a retreat where he was featured along with another Jesuit Priest. At this retreat we met other IVC Volunteers who talked about the Ignation Way which sounded exactly like what we were looking for; a very compassionate, loving, and caring volunteer group so we joined IVC. IVC has greatly enriched our lives and our marriage. I have become passionate about my volunteer job tutoring high school students in math. And, as a bonus, the school has asked me to lead their teams competing in STEM projects sponsored by Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Student Mentoring Program (SMP) under the auspice of the Peter Kiewit Institute. IVC has greatly enriched my life by learning about the Ignation way and providing excellent volunteer opportunities. Richard Stibor
Having just returned from the retreat that opens the volunteer year for IVC members from the Baltimore, D.C., and northern Virginia regions and with the first weeks of the second year at the Asylee Women Enterprises (AWE) coming to a close, I’m again overwhelmed in gratitude at my good fortune to have found the IVC and then to have come under the care of a director who so perfectly linked me up with this non-profit that provides housing, acculturation experiences, and compassionate companionship to women (and a couple of men recently) who are seeking asylum in the U.S. Having organized, implemented and taught in a three-level ESL program, I am now returning to oversee the program and again teach. However, these activities are but the tip of the iceberg, for with each visit to AWE, I’m shocked into awareness of the human capacity to endure unimaginable violence and trauma, to confront and joust with their repercussions, and to rise up to reconstruct lives that are fueled by joyful hope and love, love above all.
As much as the women’s incredible resilience sustains us as we offer them our presence and love, so are we sustained in our service by the outreach the IVC extends to us. The monthly meetings, the yearly text we discuss among other things at these meetings, and the two always incredible retreats combine to transform our lives in ways that allow us to pass transformative assistance to those we serve.
IVC changed my life in so many ways. After retiring from a long and satisfying career in nursing, I was craving work in a helping capacity. The IVC affords me the opportunity to work with those in need as a teacher, a new professional role for me! I volunteer at a school for adult education for immigrants and low income populations. This wonderful agency, Genesis Center teaches ESOL, workforce training, citizenship preparation, high school equivalency, and financial literacy. Combined with the introduction of Ignation Spirituality to my life, IVC has been a major force in my life I am currently making the Spiritual Exercises in everyday life and truly find God in all things.
The IVC supplies many agencies with highly professional, caring individuals with volunteers ton aid them in their quest to assist those of us who are in need I cannot say enough about the good work IVC provides both to the world at large and to the individual volunteer.
I joined IVC ten years ago after retirement. My last job was very fast paced and I did a lot of traveling. I knew that helping with my grandchildren was not going to be enough for me. I came across information about IVC, after a year of discernment I joined. My live have not been the same since that day. I have grown in faith and awareness of the beauty of creation. I volunteer in the public hospital in Chicago as a Chaplain Assistant. Yes, I see suffering, but I also partake in the beauty of those who know how to be grateful. This work has transformed me.
The unique combination of volunteer service opportunities and a spiritual community based on Ignatian spiritual is what drew me to the Ignatian Volunteer Corps. After one year of volunteering at Migration and Refugee Services of Cleveland Catholic Charities, I have gained much both intellectually and spiritually serving a misunderstood and underserved community. During our monthly IVC meetings, I have had an opportunity to grow spiritually and to give and receive support from other volunteers. I recommend IVC without reservation to any retiree searching for a meaningful and rewarding volunteer experience.
OK, full disclosure: I'm a donor, a volunteer and an employee of IVC, so I'm not completely objective. Having said that, I've worked in a Fortune 500 company, a large international nonprofit, and have been on the boards of a couple of other nonprofits. So I have a pretty good sense for what makes a nonprofit effective and worthy of support.
And I can say without hesitation that IVC is worthy of support. It's got an interesting combination of national presence (in 17 or so major metro areas), and lean, but effective administrative structure. IVC does a great job of matching volunteers with existing social service agencies in the cities where they serve. So they're not re-creating the wheel by starting an additional agency to serve people in need. Rather, they help bring needed skills and talent to existing nonprofits by matching the skills and experience of volunteers with the missions that they are interested in working in.
It's a win/win/win: talented volunteers get placed in service doing something they are passionate about, local nonprofits get access to high-caliber volunteer talent that they would normally have to pay for, and people in need get the help they need to lift themselves out of poverty.
Finally, the spiritual and community support part of the IVC model helps volunteers to nurture their faith by matching them with a spiritual reflector (trained in Igatian Spirituality) and bringing volunteers together once a month to meet as a volunteer community. This support in turn strengthens the resilience of volunteers, helping them to keep coming back, year after year, despite the challenging work that they do.
That's why I continue to donate to IVC - I'd like to see it expand to more metro areas in the US.
THe IVC offers retired persons in my parish, St. Michael's in Buffalo, the opportunity both to use their expertise to help local agencies and institutions and at the same time engage in spiritual reflection on what they are doing. They grow spiritually as they help other materially. Win/win!
It is my greatest pleasure and gift to work as a Regional Director for IVC. IVC provides me the opportunity to make a difference in my community by working with volunteers who go into various agencies that serve our vulnerable populations. I feel a great sense of pride knowing that my work matters in making a difference in other people's lives. Thank you. Ignatian Volunteer Corps