One of the key tenets of the Ignatian heritage is to transform people to be men and women for others. A number of recent Loyola graduates are fully embodying this principle by serving in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest (JVC Northwest). Volunteers offer at least one year of their life to work with populations living in the marginalized edges of society.
JVC Northwest is an independent, non-profit organization rooted in the Jesuit Catholic tradition. The four core values of JVC Northwest are spirituality and reflection, simple living, community, and social justice. Volunteers, known as JVs, live in communities that strive to embody these values everyday. These communities are located in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington state. There are currently 138 JVs committed to this mission today.
One such JV is Nick Reynolds, a Loyola graduate who is working at a mental health facility for adults in west Seattle.
“Mental health is an often overlooked aspect of our health, as well as a huge factor in homelessness and poverty. [This facility] works to support individuals with mental illnesses to help keep them off the streets and out of the hospital and work toward independence,” Reynolds says.
Reynolds graduated from Loyola in 2012 with a major in anthropology and minors in Spanish, peace studies, and Latin American studies. He says his time and activities at Loyola still carry weight in his life today.
“I developed a strong foundation in Jesuit values while at Loyola. Through working with Alternative Break Immersions, as well as GlobeMed at Loyola, I was able to deepen my understanding of social justice and begin practicing these values,” he says.
Claire Wiltse is another 2012 Loyola graduate who is serving as a JV in Portland, Oregon. Wiltse, a history major with two minors in pastoral studies and studio art, works in a domestic violence shelter as an advocate for women who are trying to escape domestic abuse. Some of her responsibilities include accompanying women to court and helping them apply for housing programs.
Wiltse says the four core areas of JVC align with her personal desires for life. Simplicity for Wiltse is finding satisfaction in the small joys of life. Community, she says, has been a strong support during her time volunteering.
“Community is a source of joy and growth,” she says. “We cook together, share hard days together, and quarrel like any house; but we have built a base of love and support that is so important for each of us.”
She embodies the value of social justice by working directly with these women and trying to “engage larger systems and structures to change our society to one free from sexism.”
Wiltse also sees spirituality tied into her work by her interactions with these women and the struggles they face. In addition to daily prayer, Wiltse and her community hold weekly reflections where they link their spirituality to their service.
“My community of seven reflects weekly about how our service connects to our spirituality, and I learn so much from their perspectives,” she says. “This space for reflection has been really important in processing where God meets suffering and processing my daily experiences.”
Other Loyola alums who have recently joined JVC Northwest include Anne Flaherty, John Flournoy, Elaina Polovick, Erin Baum, and Katherine Fell. For more on JVC Northwest, please click here.