Mercy Volunteer Corps places volunteers for a one year commitment in both the United States and South America. We know this is a big commitment and that you have many questions as you start this journey! Below are some of our most frequently asked questions from our applicants. If you can’t find an answer you are looking for or need more information please contact us. We are here to help you through this process and welcome you (and all of your questions!).
What is Mercy Volunteer Corps?
Mercy Volunteer Corps promotes social change by placing and supporting volunteers for one year of service with people who are poor and marginalized in the U.S. and South America. Mercy Volunteers work in education, healthcare, and social services while living together in a community and growing spiritually.
Where do Mercy Volunteers serve?
Mercy Volunteers serve a 1 year term in one of 10 different service cities and in Guyana, South America.
U.S. cities include Baltimore, MD; Detroit, MI; Philadelphia, PA; Sacramento, CA; San Francisco, CA; Savannah, GA; Pittsburgh, PA; New York, NY; and St. Michaels, AZ.
International placements are in Georgetown, the capital city of Guyana, South America.
What service opportunities are available through Mercy Volunteer Corps?
Education: Teaching (elementary, secondary, special education, vocational technology), Tutoring (literacy, GED, life skills), and After school programs
Healthcare: Nursing, OT, PT, Speech Therapist, Home Health Aides, Community Health Educators, and Health Clinics
Social Services: Homeless and Community Outreach, Transitional Housing, Immigration Legal Advocacy, Peace and Justice Ministry, Domestic Violence Shelters, Assisting People with Disabilities (both developmental and physical)
How long is the commitment/ When does the service year begin and end?
Mercy Volunteer Corps placements require a one-year commitment beginning August 1st, 2017. The ending date of the yearlong commitment falls between July 15th and 31st. International placements require additional cross-cultural training in late July or early August, prior to departure for their site in August.
How will I support myself as a volunteer?
Mercy Volunteers receive housing, medical insurance, transportation, food and personal stipends, and school loan deferment (if approved by lender).
What are the application deadlines? Where will my interview take place?
We encourage that applications be submitted close to the priority deadline where possible. As we accept applications on a rolling basis, more placement options are available early on and positions may fill before the final deadlines. For U.S. applicants, priority is given to applications received by January 18 and the final deadline is May 24. International applications must be received by no later than March 1, with priority given to complete applications received by January 18. U.S. volunteers will be interviewed in their geographic area. International volunteers are required to travel to Philadelphia, PA for a Discernment weekend, March 3-5 or March 24-26, 2017.
Who is eligible for Mercy Volunteer Corps?
A member of Mercy Volunteer Corps must be 21 years of age or older, a high school graduate, able to work 40 hours per week at the assigned service site, able to live in an intentional community where there are persons of faith, and able to commit to living on a small stipend provided for personal and communal expenses. MVC accepts men and women, single or married with no dependents. An individual should have some college or work experience and some service experience is preferred before a person applies. Motivation to serve, flexibility, and a sense of humor are essential characteristics of an appropriate applicant. Mercy Volunteer Corps invites applicants from all faith traditions who can live and serve within the spirit of the Catholic tradition.
Who chooses where I will serve?
The volunteer and the Mercy Volunteer Corps office work together to find the site that is the best fit. Geographic preference, job skills, experience, and the needs of the site are all taken into consideration. Applications received earlier in the year often have a better site selection. Placements are made on a rolling basis, so if you are interested in a specific site, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.
What makes MVC unique from other volunteer programs?
MVC is small enough to offer personalized, individualized attention and a family feel, yet large enough to offer a variety of placements in locations around the country. Whether you want a big city life or prefer to experience the slower pace of a Native American reservation, we have a location and service site for you. Our placement process is personalized and a staff member will walk with you during the discernment process to ensure finding the best possible fit for a service site. We are one of the few programs that have placement sites for nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and non-certified healthcare opportunities. Additionally, MVC offers the chance to be a part of the legacy of Catherine McAuley, a lay woman who started ministering to the poor, sick, and uneducated in the 19th century in Dublin and went on to start the Sisters of Mercy.
How do I begin the application process?
Verify that you meet the qualifications and then complete the Request for Application.
International Placement FAQs
Where do Mercy Volunteers serve abroad? What are the language requirements?
Mercy Volunteers serve in Georgetown, the capital city in Guyana, South America. Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America, meaning there is no additional language requirement.
What service opportunities are available in Guyana?
There are three ministries of the Sisters of Mercy at which the Mercy Volunteers serve: St. John Bosco Orphanage, Mercy Wings Vocational Center, and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.
Are there additional requirements for someone who is applying for an International Placement?
It is preferred that applicants for International sites have some significant experience either in a cross-cultural setting or with those who are poor or marginalized. It is also preferred that these applicants have a true desire to live intentionally and interdependently with the people they serve.
What is a discernment weekend?
Following completion of MVC’s application and a phone interview, international candidates who are found to be a good match for MVC attend a discernment weekend. These weekends provide a prayerful retreat setting where candidates can share together in discerning their call to international service. This weekend includes individual sessions with the MVC staff. Candidates provide their own transportation to the discernment weekend in Philadelphia, and MVC covers all other expenses for the weekend.
How does MVC prepare me to serve abroad?
Candidates accepted for an international placement with MVC attend a cross-cultural preparation and training program for several days. This program is held in late July or early August and includes participants from other international programs also preparing for long-term service abroad. In addition, the volunteer attends the weeklong MVC orientation to learn more about the Mercy charism and the commitment to the core values of service, simplicity, community, and spirituality.
Is there a fundraising requirement to serve in Guyana?
Due to the financial limitations of the service sites in Guyana, international volunteers commit to fundraising in order to defray some of the costs of supporting volunteers in Guyana. Volunteers typically find this far easier than they expect. MVC Staff provide suggestions and resources to assist in this process.
Am I allowed to visit home during the commitment?
In a spirit of simplicity and solidarity with the local community in Guyana, Mercy Volunteers who receive international placement commit to not traveling home during their year of service. Volunteers may, however, have visitors.
Will Mercy Volunteer Corps offer any support once I am finished my service?
MVC recognizes that a volunteer’s transition to their home culture after a cross-cultural immersion is significant and on-going. MVC supports volunteers in their initial re-adjustment by providing a Re-Entry Retreat, which occurs approximately three months after their return, and a Re-Adjustment Allowance.