Dear Future Mercy Volunteer,
First and foremost, congratulations! A year of service is a big commitment, one that has the potential to change your life forever and for the better. I am midway through my second year and I can say with complete certainty that becoming a Mercy Volunteer is one of the best decisions I have ever made. It has been amazing overall, but it has not always been easy. Dedicating yourself to a year of service requires both commitment and openness. Below is some advice for starting your journey with MVC.
Commit to your community. I think living in community is one of the biggest draws to applying to MVC but it can also be the thing that people give up on first. Living with others takes work — period — but living in community adds another dimension to that commitment. These aren’t just your roommates, these are the people sharing this experience with you. They are the people you will come home to, eat dinner with, share spirituality nights with, share the good and the bad. At the end of your year, they will be the people who have the greatest understanding of what your time as a volunteer was like and what it meant to you. Needless to say, they are important. Building and maintaining community can take a lot of work but it’s worth it. You will almost definitely have conflict but don’t let it deter your commitment. Resist the urge to give up on community. Throughout your experience, you will all have to commit again and again and again but I promise if you do, it will be worth it.
Be open. One of the most incredible parts of a year of service is the opportunity to live in a new place and to work in a new field. There are so many places to explore and usually, prior work requirements are minimal. Take me for example, in college I studied chemistry and yet here I am a year and a half later working in social services. Sure, I had volunteered here and there with service sites but almost all of my relevant knowledge and experience has come from my time as a Mercy Volunteer. You will be thrown into a new city, a new culture, a new job, and living with people you’ve never met before. It can be overwhelming! It can be so easy to fall into a safe routine and viewpoint of the world but I urge you to resist. There is so much to learn about society, about others, and about yourself. Be open to new experiences, ideas, and ways of living. You won’t love everything but you will love so much more than you expect.
I could go on for pages and pages giving advice and telling stories of my time as a volunteer but for the sake of brevity I will leave off here. A year of service is a miraculous adventure with the potential to change you forever and for the better.
Nicole Fusco: San Francisco 2016-2018