There are many misconceptions about doing a year of service. This post looks to dispel some of these myths about a year of service in general, and more specifically about VVC.
Myth #1: I won’t be able to pay student loans or other bills
Fact #1: For student loans, VVCs receive assistance to put their loans in deferment status for the duration of the program. In addition, VVCs are granted an Education Award (for ’17-’18, it was in the amount of $5,815) upon completion of the program to pay for past loans or future schooling. Mary Ellen, a 2nd-year volunteer writes, “I was not able to put that much money toward my student loans in an entry-level job right out of college, so this was a great benefit for me.”
In addition, all basic needs are covered by the program, including rent, utilities, health and renter’s insurance, as well as stipends for cell phones, transportation, and personal use.
Myth #2: I’m not Catholic, so I don’t belong in VVC.
Fact #2: While St. Vincent de Paul is a Catholic organization, the VVC program is intentionally diverse. People of all faith backgrounds are encouraged to apply because the diversity of belief adds to the richness of community. We all have something to learn from each other. Phyllis, a current volunteer says,
“I have never felt judged because of my denomination, which I am allowed to practice without any restrictions. When we all get together to discuss spirituality, we are bonded together by the universal principles of love, respect and service. These are the beliefs VVCs stand for.”
Myth #3: Intentional community seems too intense; I need to keep up with other relationships.
Fact #3: Intentional community certainly does not mean anyone is cut off from the outside world. Family members, significant others, and other friends are all vital relationships, and making time for those people is important. VVC does challenge you to make your community a priority, but that does not mean you are cut off from the other people in your life. David (VVC 2017-18) explains,
“You are going to have a life outside of community, and that’s understandable and ok. Intentional community is more about being intentional about the time you spend together, rather than spending all the time together.”
Myth #4: My role won’t be relevant. I will only be doing the work of an intern.
Fact #4: On the contrary, VVCs are an integral part of the staff at St. Vincent de Paul. They are tasked with contributing to major projects in a meaningful way, giving their honest opinions, and making real contributions toward the organization. Many alumni were granted their next step after the program year directly because of the professional work they did as a VVC.
Myth #5: As a Cincinnati resident, I don’t have anything new to learn from here.
Fact #5: A number of VVCs have had previous ties to the Cincinnati area, but that does not mean there is nothing left to gain from serving in a local program. Jack, a VVC, and lifelong Cincinnatian, writes,
“This year is unique to the previous parts of my life in Cincinnati, and gives me a new perspective from which to see my hometown and its people, because I am now an adult, out of school, and living intentionally in the West End community.”
To hear more of Jack’s thoughts on doing a year of service in his hometown, read his blog entry.