FAQs

1. Thinking About Becoming a JV

Who can become a Jesuit Volunteer?

Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest seeks applicants with maturity, openness, and flexibility. JVC Northwest welcomes persons of every ethnicity, origin, ability, sexual orientation, gender expression, and economic status.  Applicants should be 21 or older and have a college degree or applicable work experience. Applicants cannot be married, and we ask that applicants’ marital status not change during the service year. Jesuit Volunteers are committed to community, social and ecological justice, simple living, and spirituality/reflection.

Where do JVC Northwest volunteers serve?

JVC Northwest volunteers serve people living on the margins of society in 24 communities in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, in both rural and urban areas. JVs serving in the Northwest have the unique opportunity to explore the incredible natural beauty and rich cultural diversity of the Pacific Northwest!

When does the service year start?

Service begins in early August, when all volunteers join together in Oregon for Orientation, a week-long introduction to JVC Northwest. This is an exciting week with opportunities for JVs to meet their housemates and experience what it truly means to be a part of JVC Northwest. While JVs are responsible for traveling to Orientation, JVC Northwest provides transportation to each volunteer’s community at the end of Orientation.

Why is JVC Northwest separate from JVC based in Baltimore?

The entire JVC movement began here in the Northwest in 1956, when a few volunteers helped build and teach in the new Copper Valley School in Copper Valley, Alaska. The program soon expanded beyond AK, and in the 70s and 80s, our program inspired the opening of five regions of JVC (Midwest, East, Southwest, South, and one international region), each an independent non-profit.

In 2007, all JVC regions decided to join together as one central program in Baltimore. However, after a long Ignatian discernment process, JVC Northwest discerned to remain independent and locally based to best serve our local and regional communities. JVC Northwest and JVC are now sister organizations that recruit alongside each other but now have different missions and opportunities for their volunteers. Learn more about the differences here.

JVC Northwest has been the catalyst for many other faith-based volunteer organizations, and served as a model for the U.S. Peace Corps.

What are the differences between JVC Northwest and JVC?

JVC Northwest and JVC based in Baltimore are two separate organizations. They vary in three primary ways:

  1. Types of placements/locales: JVC in Baltimore offers many large urban placements in the U.S., while JVC Northwest offers a bit more variety of locales. We have a number of large urban centers, but offer a wider variety of small cities, towns, and rural and remote locales. This means there are also more opportunities to serve with Indigenous communities, specifically in Montana and Alaska.
  2. Ecological Justice: JVC Northwest recently incorporated “ecological justice” into our core values, so there is a concentrated focus on this throughout the year. Ecological justice shows up both in the types of placements we offer, as well as in the resources we offer JVs and the challenges and lifestyle choices JVs take on during the year.
  3. AmeriCorps: JVC Northwest has been an AmeriCorps Direct Grantee for the last six years, which offers a significant benefit to our volunteers and agencies. This partnership means almost all of our JVs are also AmeriCorps members (142 of the 148+) and are eligible for the $5,815 Education Award at the end of the year, which can be used to pay back federal student loans or pay for future education. AmeriCorps funding also cuts the cost in half for an agency to host a JV, so more agencies and smaller locales can now afford to have JVs that couldn’t before our partnership with AmeriCorps.

How is JVC Northwest different from other service opportunities and programs?

One of the ways JVC Northwest is distinct from other service programs is the incorporation of spirituality into the experience. JVC Northwest is rooted in the Ignatian tradition of faith-directed service. JVC Northwest was co-founded by the Jesuits, who continue to support and fill an integral role in the on-going success of the program. JVs come from a variety of faith backgrounds and commit to sharing their traditions while finding common ground through service and the mission, and incorporate faith into their everyday lives and desire to work for justice.

The service opportunities available through JVC Northwest also differentiate us from other service programs in a few ways:

  • Cross-cultural opportunities: Our program offers a number of cross-cultural opportunities, so JVs may be serving in Alaskan Native, Native American, or Spanish speaking communities, as well as in urban and rural settings.
  • Diverse types of service: The types of service JVs engage in ranges from social work, education, health care, legal work, advocacy and community organizing, as well as working with people experiencing mental illness, disabilities, homelessness, and domestic violence.

 

We are also different in that we provide a great amount of support to JVs throughout the year. Support can come from each volunteer’s direct community, from local support people, the JVC Northwest area director, three retreats, and the large network of former volunteers. From the moment you become a JV, you are linked to the largest network of former volunteers serving in a faith-based program in the country. The quality of support and involvement from former JVs is unrivaled by other programs. Many JVs gain relationships with like-minded individuals that last a lifetime!

¿Hablas español?  ¡Tenemos un puesto para ti!    

Muchos de nuestros voluntarios trabajan con la comunidad latina, usando diariamente su habilidad de hablar en español.  Busca los puestos ubicados en las ciudades siguientes para más información: Yakima, Gresham, Wenatchee, Hood River, Portland, Hillsboro, Boise, y Seattle.  ¡Piensa en la oportunidad de usar tu español aquí en el noroeste!

Do I get to choose my volunteer placement?

As staff we do our best to match applicants with a position that will utilize their strengths, challenge them to grow, and meet the needs of the partner agency.  We ask our applicants to consider diverse types of placements and to be open to a number of possibilities, as their openness to go where the need is greatest helps us make the best matches and increases applicants’ chances of receiving a placement.

How is JVC Northwest connected to the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits)?

JVC Northwest is rooted in the Jesuit Catholic tradition and guides our mission and vision. Whether Catholic or of another spiritual tradition, Jesuit Volunteers must be open to sharing their stories and hearing others’ stories as well. Jesuit Volunteers often draw inspiration and direction from the traditions of the Jesuits, whether or not they were already familiar with these traditions, but also seek to explore their spiritual lives in other ways.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, sought to integrate a life of prayer with active work and service. Ignatian spirituality is realistic; it invites us to become more deeply aware of our experiences in everyday life, discovering the Divine in all things. As we do this, we become more conscious of God’s presence with us and more aware of how we might act in a God-centered way, especially in service to others. Like Jesuits, Jesuit Volunteers are called to where God, people, and places will best be served.

JVs are given opportunities to learn about and share elements of Ignatian Spirituality during three retreats, weekly community gatherings, and optional spiritual direction sessions. As founders and supporters of the JVC Northwest, the Jesuits provide support and act as resources to many JV communities.

What are my chances of being accepted into the program?

Your chances are very good if you meet the basic qualifications, are committed to living all four values for a year, and are flexible about where you may go and what service you will provide. Submitting your application as early as possible is recommended. Each application is carefully screened by a JVC Northwest staff member to make sure the applicant is well motivated, emotionally stable, and understands the commitment to JVC Northwest. The service agency ultimately chooses the best qualified applicant for each particular position.

What kind of training will I receive for my service position?

Your agency will provide the training needed for your specific position. This often includes a general orientation to the agency, shadowing staff members, learning protocols, and informational trainings throughout the year. Trainings vary by agency. You will also receive regular on-site supervision to get feedback and continue to grow in the position. JVC Northwest retreats and support people may provide ideas and resources which can further inform the service you provide at your agency.

Does JVC Northwest need applicants with special skills or credentials?

While most of our placements do not require special skills, there are some placements that do. Several teaching positions require certification; Spanish competence is helpful or required in many placements. Registered nurses and persons interested in legal positions are also needed for a few placements as well.

Does JVC Northwest accept international applicants?

Because of the challenge inherent in the JVC Northwest program, we do not encourage applications from persons who would have the additional task of adjusting to English language and U.S. culture. We do recognize, however, the special relationship between the U.S. and its geographical neighbors, and so welcome inquiries from Mexican and Canadian citizens who speak sufficient English to function well in both a placement and JV community, and who have the appropriate immigration status to sustain a year-long volunteer experience in the U.S.

Applicants from foreign countries must file for all appropriate legal documentation (visa, green card, etc.) at an early stage of the application/screening process, and be confirmed before the applicant is matched with a placement.  JVC Northwest is not able to assist applicants in obtaining the appropriate legal documentation.

How will I be challenged as a volunteer?

This is a year to ask questions, try new things, and to be challenged, by looking honestly at choices you make and building awareness about how your life impacts others.  This includes exploring and evaluating patterns of consumption, privilege, and personal bias. You will be encouraged to challenge yourself, as well as to be open to receiving encouragement and feedback from your area director, community members, and support team.

What is the length of service commitment? Can I apply for an additional service term?

Volunteers commit to one full year of service, beginning with Orientation the first week of August and concluding in the end of July. Current volunteers are welcome to apply for an additional year with JVC Northwest! You can read more below about what that process looks like.

I noticed that JVC Northwest is also an AmeriCorps program. What does that mean if I become a Jesuit Volunteer?

JVC Northwest currently receives AmeriCorps funding through a National Direct Grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. Every JVC Northwest AmeriCorps member who successfully completes a year of full-time service is eligible to receive an Education Award for $5,750.

While the vast majority of Jesuit Volunteers are AmeriCorps members, some JV positions are not eligible for membership due to federal guidelines specific to their service provided at the placement. Some are also not eligible because JVC Northwest’s AmeriCorps funding is limited to 135 of our 150 placements.

See the AmeriCorps FAQs for more information.

What is JV EnCorps?

Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps (JV EnCorps) engages women and men ages 50 and older in a transforming experience of volunteer service and spiritual growth. Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps members (JVEs) commit to a year or more of significant service in their local communities and to JVC Northwest’s four core values. Visit the JV EnCorps page to learn more.