It is hard to believe Quaker Voluntary Service is well into our second program year. We have grown from one pilot house of seven Volunteers in Atlanta, to three houses of nineteen Volunteers in three cities. We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of Friends across the country eager to support and encourage this opportunity for young adults to deeply explore Quakerism, live intentionally, contribute towards making the world a more just place, and ultimately be transformed in the process. Thank you for continuing to believe in this vision.
We welcomed the 2013-2014 QVS Volunteers to Atlanta at the end of August for a week-long orientation. The orientation included community building, skills and training, time to begin to envision the year, and delving into the QVS core values: community, service, transformation, and the Quaker way. At the end of the week, the Volunteers journeyed back to their new cities to begin the work of creating their new home and community together.
Six Volunteers are serving in Atlanta this year. The program in Atlanta continues under the care of Atlanta Friends Meeting. Atlanta Volunteers are finding their daily rhythms, meeting with spiritual nurturers, working in a variety of organizations, and enjoying the profoundly Quaker experience of QVS programming. At their initiative, Atlanta Volunteers participated in a recent Alternatives to Violence training at Nashville Meeting. Four of the pioneering QVS Volunteers from last year remain in Atlanta, where they are active in Atlanta Friends Meeting and welcoming to the new Volunteers. Its been a joy to stay connected to our alumni and see the many ways they are continuing the build on their QVS year.
Eight Volunteers have launched the Philadelphia program. They have enjoyed settling into their home in Germantown, walking to Germantown Friends Meeting each Sunday, and getting to know the many people who have supported the program coming to life there. Volunteers are already having an impact on the city. Ross, QVS assistant director and Philadelphia Coordinator recently told me about a meeting he had with the director of one of our site placement organizations, the woman who runs a school serving a distressed neighborhood in Philadelphia. Because of budget shortfalls, the school had been without a music program for years. The QVS Volunteer serving there brings a background in music, and the students are now learning to both play and appreciate music from around the world. At the end of the meeting, the site supervisor said, “you know, we were praying to God that we would be able to find some way to get this music program back up and running. When we found out that the QVS Volunteer had experience in both music and education, we realized that QVS was the answer to our prayers.”
Currently, there are five amazing Volunteers in Portland, supported by four different congregations. The Volunteers get to experience both programmed and unprogrammed expressions of Quaker worship, and to build relationships with Friends from different branches of our family tree. In a very short time, QVS has become an important part of the Quaker landscape in Portland. Unfortunately, two of the Volunteers who were originally assigned to Portland have chosen to leave the program. We support them in their new endeavors, and feel ongoing gratitude for lessons we have learned in the process. The Volunteers who remain wrote a beautiful “Minute of Appreciation and Commitment,” a document that offers affirmation for the work of QVS and the support Portland has given to the Volunteers. Shown is a photo of them with the quilts that several area Quaker women made for them as a welcome gift. One Portland Volunteer recently told me, “this QVS year is exactly what I needed.”
Applications for 2014-2015
Even though this year is just beginning, we are already planning for the next QVS program year. We are excited to continue to place Volunteers in our current three-city network. Applications for our 2014-2015 year will be available November 1. Visit www.quakervoluntaryservice.org/apply for an application. Please share this opportunity with any young adults who you think may benefit from a year of intentional community, service, and spiritual exploration. For priority consideration, applications need to be submitted by March 15.
Your Support is Vital
Remember, all of this work is only possible through your generous support. Please consider a gift to Quaker Voluntary Service. Working together, we are expanding the capacity of service organizations across the country. We are supporting Volunteers and building connections among Friends. We believe that Quaker Voluntary Service is part of the healthy future of the Quaker movement, building on vital experiences of Spirit-led service that have long been at the core of our faith community and our impact on the world. Please continue to hold us in the Light as we move forward in implementing a year of community, service, transformation, and the Quaker way.
You may donate via check or credit card online here: www.wepay.com/donations/quakervoluntaryservice. We are so grateful for so many of you who have given in the past to make this exciting work possible!
In Faith and Service,
Founding Executive Director