Five ways to find, build, and maintain community as volunteer alumni
(Adapted from p. 17- 22 of CVN’s What’s Next Notebook)
We know from experience that the bonds formed in community are never truly diminished by time or distance. Still, it can be a challenge to take the next step (new city, new job, new relationship) without the proximate support and faith of your community members. If you are looking for ways to experience community as a former volunteer, here are some ways you might get started...
1. Cultivate Local Connections – Reach out to the staff of your volunteer program to ask if they know of any fellow volunteer alumni living in your area; they may be able to make some introductions, or suggest an active ministry with staff or current volunteers whom you could connect with nearby.
2. Keep in Touch – Whether sending a weekly email update, sharing resources in a Facebook group, or setting a monthly date via Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangouts, continue growing with your volunteer community after your service has ended. Reminisce, look ahead, and share the struggles and joys of life after service with those who served at your side.
3. Renew on Retreat – Seek out opportunities to continue practicing reflection and spiritualty in community through local retreat houses. Diocesan newspapers and parish bulletins often include information about upcoming events, and From Mission to Mission offers re-entry retreats for alumni volunteers.
4. Continue the Call – It may seem obvious, but finding new ways to volunteer can directly connect you to active communities of like-minded people. What aspects of your service brought you great joy? Are there other works of justice or advocacy that you’d like to learn more about? Check out these resources to explore local service opportunities:
- Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
- Center of Concern Education for Justice
- Pax Christi USA
- Catholic Charities USA
- Catholic Relief Services
- Casa Juan Diego, Houston Catholic Worker
- Catholic Worker (Find a community nationwide)
- Church World Service
- Bread for the World
5. Join the Conversation – Share your story with the CVN alumni community! Writing is a terrific way to process your experience and to connect with others who may be reading and want to learn more about you. We also welcome your nonfiction, prose, poetry, photography, and artwork. For help with prompts and themes, please contact Katie Delaney at [email protected], or Mike McCormick at [email protected].