This blog is part of our #WhatsNext series for former volunteers, inspired by the What’s Next Notebook resource from Catholic Volunteer Network and Catholic Apostolate Center. In each blog, we will explore helpful tips for looking back on your volunteer experience, saying goodbye, determining your next steps, and sustaining your spiritual growth during the transition to “life after volunteering.”
How can you move on, without leaving all that you gained from your service experience behind? Many of the values and practices you appreciated about your year of service can be sustained, it just requires some additional effort.
Kayla is a former lay missioner who worked overseas as a teacher and now works in international development. Joe’s experience as a full-time volunteer at a homeless shelter fostered a call to serve God in religious life. Mary decided to take a year off between undergrad and graduate school to work in a day program for disabled adults and now finds her vocation by serving the community as a social worker. All of these people engaged in volunteer service for a year or more, and all found a way to incorporate that experience into the next phase of their professional lives.
Returning from service is often a confusing time because an old way of seeing has been replaced with a new way. While transition itself is not an option, transitioning in a healthy, productive manner is a choice. Sometimes former volunteers, after a year or two have passed, think of it as a box sitting on a shelf in the closet. The experience happened, they learned from it, but now they are doing the next thing. It is essential to understand that you have changed, and that change is a good thing. But you don’t have to let your experience isolate you from the outside world.
For more about transition – and the choices we have during this time – revisit our previous blog in this series, “Saying Goodbye,” which focuses on William Bridges’ three phases of transition: Letting Go; The Neutral Zone; and New Beginning.
Prayer: I thank you, loving God, for the ways I have been transformed by service. I pray that I will remember your faithfulness and grace as I take my next steps. Help me to cling to these experiences as I continue this journey, growing in love and faith every step along the way.
Thank you for diving into our #WhatsNext series! Next week, we will explore the theme of Staying Connected – Spirituality, in which we will recall the ways your volunteer experience helped you to grow in faith while also feeling out ways to continue growing in your spirituality post-volunteering.
Be sure to register and receive all our resources for former volunteers, including the What’s Next Notebook and our Weekly Job Bank, by clicking here!