Q: Where do volunteers live?
Bon Secours Volunteers live together with the other BSVMs in intentional community. The house is located in the same neighborhood where volunteers serve, only a few blocks from the hospital and Family Support Center where many of our volunteers go each day to serve.
Q: Is the neighborhood I’ll be living in safe?
Volunteers live in areas of need in Baltimore and Richmond–we have deliberately chosen to be there because we see both communities as sacred places where there is beauty and life. Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry takes safety seriously and guides volunteers to approach safety matters from a stance of nonviolence and relationships. Volunteers are encouraged to get out and meet their neighbors, participate in neighborhood association meetings, and be a visible part of the neighborhood so that volunteers and others are looking out for each other’s safety. BSVM provides nonviolence training during orientation and hosts a security officer from the hospital early in the year to offer advice and answer any questions volunteers may have. While we can never guarantee safety, BSVM works diligently to help volunteers transition to living and working in the inner-city and to make it home.
“Dear young people, have a great heart! Do not be afraid to dream big things!” -Pope Francis
Q: How much is the stipend? What is it used for?
Bon Secours volunteers receive a monthly stipend of $325 before taxes. The program also provides housing, health insurance, and a community car for the year. Volunteers as a community are responsible for purchasing their own food and putting gas in the car. The remainder of the volunteer’s stipend is expected to be used for all other personal expenses, including travel home during the year, outside activities, cell phone bill (if applicable), student loan payments (if not deferred), etc. Every year volunteers are surprised how little money they really need to meet their needs!
Q: Who can join the program?
Our volunteers are:
- Unmarried men or women
- Between the ages of 21 and 30
- Recent college graduates
- Who are in good physical and psychological health
- And are committed to the programs’ 5 pillars: Live Simply, Develop Community, Grow Spiritually, Learn Through Service with Others, and Practice God’s Justice.
Q: How many people are in the program in one year?
Our volunteer community usually consists of about 5-6 volunteers a year, per location.
Q: What is the schedule of a volunteer like?
Sample day in the life of a Bon Secours Ministry Volunteer:
7:00 Wake up, get ready for the day, short community prayer
8:30 Start work at placement site
5:00 Finish work, head home
6:00 Community meeting
7:30 Other activities- free time, participate in other volunteer opportunities, get involved with community sports league, time for personal reflection, etc.
10:00 Go to bed
Q: What are the community obligations of living as a BSVM volunteer?
Bon Secours Volunteers commit to spend at least 2 nights a week with their community. Community Night involves prayer, dinner, and a community meeting where issues of community life can be addressed. In addition, there is weekly communal reflection guided by program staff.
Q: What opportunities are there for spiritual development during my time as a Bon Secours Volunteer?
Grow spiritually is the foundational program pillar. Weekly community commitments involve prayer, and volunteers are asked to engage in daily personal prayer throughout the week. There are also 3 retreats built into the service year- in the fall, winter and spring. Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry also offers the opportunity for volunteers to meet with a spiritual adviser for spiritual direction.
Q: Can I have a job while in the program?
We ask that volunteers do not take outside work or classes. Our volunteers have full schedules with their full-time service, commitments to the program for things like Formation nights, and an obligation to be present to the community. We provide the monthly stipend and other financial support to allow volunteers to be able to support themselves on those funds.
Q: Will I be able to apply to graduate or medical school while serving my year?
Yes! Every year we have volunteers applying to school during their time of service. Volunteers get an allotted number of vacation days to use at their discretion throughout the year, and those who are travelling to school interviews are free to use their vacation days travelling if needed.
Q: What do volunteers do outside work?
BSVM encourages volunteers to participate in at least one activity outside the volunteer community to make friends in the wider Richmond and Baltimore communities. Over the years, volunteers have found many great things to do with their free time. Many have participated in sport-related activities, including community kickball leagues and running groups. Several volunteers have found outside volunteer activities to participate in, such as after-school mentoring and tutoring programs for local students. Some volunteers also become active in their church, participating in Bible studies or social activities in their church communities. There are a huge number of possibilities to find fruitful ways of participating in the wider community during your time of service.
Q: How long is the Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry program? When does it start and end?
The Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry program lasts about 11 months. It begins in late August/early September and ends July 31st. Volunteers commit to serve for the entire 11 month period when they join the program.
“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!”- St Catherine of Siena