"And the Gifts We Have, We are Given to Share"

Andthegiftswehave Andthegiftswehave

Working behind-the-scenes, Kevin Tansey shares his gifts with Ignatian Volunteer Corps. Kevin is an Ignatian Volunteer, a National Board Member and a donor. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer, a retired federal government employee, a husband, father, and life-long learner.

Kevin’s attention to detail, financial background, thoughtfulness, and work ethic contribute to the effectiveness of two nonprofit agencies – IVC and DC Central Kitchen.

Kevin is in his ninth year of service at DC Central Kitchen. Among other good things, the Kitchen reduces hunger by recovering unserved food, trains unemployed adults – many just out of prison or living in shelters – for entry-level kitchen jobs, serves healthy school meals, and rebuilds urban and rural food systems through social enterprise.

“On my first visit to the Kitchen, I knew it was a good fit for me,” he says. “Jesus’s words, ‘Feed my sheep’ came through so clearly. I’m a pretty literal guy!”

Kevin worked first in the Finance Office and, after his first two years, moved to the Development Office. He learned and helped implement a new software program for the donor database and developed an informal manual to train staff. He records donations, generates thank-you letters, generates internal reports to management, analyzes the database, and makes changes to improve the accuracy and quality of data.

“I have myself convinced that helping in an administrative role, doing the so-called boring, detailed work, which I actually like, is all part of feeding the hungry. DCCK staff are amazing in that they keep coming up with new and interesting ways to feed God’s sheep. I am blessed to be part of it.”

“I’m inspired by the idea of Mary, Jesus’ mother – Blessed art thou among women. It’s actually revealing that there’s not much about her in the Gospels. It’s a good example. To be doing God’s will isn’t necessarily doing something the world – or anyone in it – will find praiseworthy.”

In his work with IVC’s National Board, Kevin was first a member and is now Chair of a Committee whose purpose is to analyze IVC’s need for better policies and help ensure their implementation. Together with IVC staff, the Committee is preparing a lengthy application to the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations for certification of IVC as a Standards For Excellence nonprofit organization. It’s like a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for well governed nonprofits.

“Kevin’s work on the Standards for Excellence project has been a blessing to IVC,” says Mary McGinnity, Executive Director. “With our lean national staff, we could not dedicate the time required for this detailed application process. Kevin’s skills and leadership, along with the other committee members, are a gift. His work will result in our ability to show we are a model nonprofit and will help us attract new volunteers and donors.”

When Kevin was asked to share his IVC experiences for this article, he agreed with humility. “One time I heard one of my IVC friends say that it’s embarrassing to be praised for what we do. And it is, if we allow ourselves to think we’re the ones doing it all. But the Divine is in each of us. We’re all members of the Body of Christ. If we, in fact, are doing something worthwhile, the praise really isn’t for us. I know myself and I’m so limited in so many ways; I’ll spare you the details. But really, we’re seeking to be a channel of blessing to others through Christ. The amazing thing is that the Divine presence within can come through in all of us if we allow it to. These aren’t our gifts or talents, but reflections of God’s presence.”

“The spiritual components of IVC’s program have been a gift to me. Christ’s example of washing the feet of his apostles shows that our job is to serve others. And as we do this, IVC washes our feet by giving us the great satisfaction of feeling like we’re doing what we are meant to do and, one hopes, enhancing our spiritual growth.”

“An IVC quote that I’ve heard often is something like, ‘We don’t want to get to the end of our lives and feel like we had life’s experiences but missed the meaning’. IVC can help us get the meaning. In other words, IVC’s reflection and spiritual development program is enriching.”

“As individuals reflecting on God’s many gifts and blessings to us, we naturally feel grateful. As Volunteers, we can reciprocate by acting with generosity through our work for the needy. In sharing our gifts, we often become more grateful for being able to serve. That is, the wonderful rewards, for example, the “psychic income”, we derive and feel from acting generously – or, more accurately, from serving as, or intending to be, a channel of God’s blessing to others – is really another gift we receive through God’s grace. From that gratitude, our generosity can grow. In other words, this has the potential to create the opposite of a vicious cycle; perhaps we could call it a serendipitous cycle of gratitude, generous giving, and growth. The giving includes our time in service as well as financial giving to IVC and to the poor.”

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