The Ignatian Volunteer Corps – Experience, Service, Reflection

The Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) was founded early in 1995 when Jesuit Fathers Jim Conroy and the late Charlie Costello gathered a small group of retired women and men to consider ways to minister to persons who are materially poor and, at the same time, achieve spiritual growth through service. By year’s end, there were 11 volunteers in three cities. Today, IVC is a national organization with 16 regional programs and more than 300 volunteers.

IVC’s mission is to provide retired and semi-retired lay men and women who are over 50 the opportunity to serve the needs of people who are poor, to work for a more just society and, in the Ignatian tradition, to grow deeper in their Christian faith. IVC fulfills this mission by enabling volunteers to apply the talents and lifetime experiences in ways that help improve the lives of people in need. Working in their communities, volunteers serve as tutors, help advance literacy skills, prepare and serve meals, help find jobs and housing, provide health care and companionship, perform administrative tasks, and help raise funds.

Each Ignatian volunteer commits to serve two days a week for 10 months of a year, and to reflect on his or her service experiences by keeping a journal, meeting monthly with a spiritual reflector, meeting regularly with other volunteers, and periodically joining other volunteers in an overnight retreat or day of reflection. Community organizations that provide service opportunities commit to a partnership with the IVC, offer meaningful service assignments, and support local IVC programs through modest annual fees.

More than anything else, it is its reflection experience that differentiates the Ignatian Volunteer Corps from other volunteer-service opportunities. Ignatian volunteers are guided through a reflection process based upon the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. The process enables volunteers to discover the deeper meaning of the work they do, and to see Christ more clearly as they labor among their brothers and sisters who are poor.

Foundations, families, individuals, and Jesuit provinces and communities are the main sources of IVC’s funding and their investments in IVC’s work are prudently managed. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance’s Standards for Charity Accountability recommend than an organization spend at least 65 cents of every dollar on program services.  IVC spends close to 80 cents per dollar on services.

For more on the IVC, including links to its regional offices,? visit . IVC programs are in Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New England, the New York metropolitan area, Omaha, Philadelphia/South Jersey, San Diego, St. Louis, Syracuse, Northern Virginia, and Washington D.C./Metro Maryland.

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