–Lizbeth Espinoza, 2017-2018 “It sounds cheesy to say, but I can finally understand that ‘A Year of Service’ has definitely already made ‘A Lifetime of Difference’. The course of my career and vocation pathways were defined through my service this year. I have gained confidence in myself and my abilities to further trust God and in the discernment process. Above all, building relationships with my community, supervisors, students and co-workers has resulted in some of the most beautiful friendships and lifelong memories. Experiencing a year of service has been the best decision I have ever considered and committed to accomplishing.”
–Emily Carey, 2014-2015 “Simple living is definitely not as easy without all of your support! But I have succeeded so far with not using our dishwasher and went to a free movie last night. Woo success! 🙂 ”
–Crystal (Rausch) Friske, 2007-2008 “I am a VSC West alum and could not imagine where I would be in life had I not done a year of service. Keep up the great work! And thank you for all you have given me ”
–Hope Cornelis, 2013-2014 “My year of service with VSC was incredibly enlightening. It allowed me to take time to discern my future career path while doing meaningful work I enjoyed. On top of that, I was able to live in a beautiful city with amazing and kind-hearted people”
–Nicole Jones, 2009-2010 “I am a VSC alum who served at the St. Vincent de Paul Community Center in Oakland. In the last year, I started volunteering there again as a case manager in the job training program and I absolutely love it. Since then, I’ve also received my permaculture design certificate for ecological design and building community gardens. I feel so lucky to be able to put those new skills to use at SVDP by designing a community garden and greening program at the Oakland campus and hopefully expand to other SVDP campuses in the Bay Area.” -2016
–Drake Manalo, 2016-2017 “A year of service with VSCW at The Gubbio Project was one of the most challenging years of my life. A job I would not have chosen otherwise, a community I would have never lived with, and having a very small amount of money in one of the most expensive cities in the world. But without a doubt it has shown me what it means to truly be human and love one another.”
–Sarah Rothman-Robins, 2009-2010 “I am a VSC West Alumni and my year of service and living in intentional community has helped shape and mold me into the person I am today. Any person would be very lucky to be given this opportunity. I am so thankful to have had this amazing experience.”
–Ben Zimmer, 2009-2010 “VSC changed my life. After graduating from DePaul in 2009, I ventured to Los Angeles to work in film publicity. After 6 months I realized I wasn’t in the right place. Instead of moving back to the Midwest my best friend encouraged me to check out her VSC program in Santa Barbara. A reluctant Jewish young man working for Warner Bros. made the drive up to Santa Barbara and fell in love. Before I knew it I was surrounded by possibility and humility. The year I spent living in community at St. Vincent’s with the support of our VSC mentors and friends was the most rewarding and grounding year of my life. I got in touch with what brought me joy. I slowed down and looked inward. I met the most generous individuals I’ve known and witnessed the healing that human connection brings to those in need. The Vincentian Service Corps is an opportunity of a lifetime. An opportunity for self-development, an opportunity to simplify, and an opportunity to serve.”
–Nicole Bejany, 2015-2016 “The love and compassion I felt from the women reminded me that we are all human, learning, suffering, and growing. We each have something to give and teach. It is with realization that we all belong to each other, and must learn to accept and care for ourselves, that the most profound and beautiful sense of love and compassion is born. Each day at Epiphany the clients continue to show me how love really does conquer all.”
–Hannah Petcovic, 2013-2014 “My year of service is always in my heart!
VSC taught me that when serving someone, rapport is built through good intentions and respect. When I started at CMC (Cardinal Manning Center- Los Angeles) I was concerned the clients wouldn’t be open with me, they would think “How could she understand? She’s never been homeless/ incarcerated/ addicted/ etc”. In reality, these differences dissipated pretty quickly when they sensed my desire to listen and be genuine.”
–Kevin Nennig, 2012-2013 “Education provides a path to exit out of poverty. This is the reason De Marillac Academy (DMA) strives to be a beacon of light in a darkened area of the San Francisco area. My year of service at DMA will forever remain in my heart and continue to guide me to advocate education as a basic right for all.”
–Megan Fitzpatrick, 2014-2015 “One year of service with VSC West. That may seem like a small amount of time in the grand-scheme of things, but I promise you it’s going to make a lifetime of difference. You’ll grow spiritually, meet inspiring, faith-filled individuals, have housemates who turn into family and make some of the most wonderful memories. But most importantly and most powerfully, you’ll serve like you’ve never served before.”
–Ken Kurt, 2003-2004 “My year of service in Los Angeles deeply impacted who I am today. The year reinforced the power of stepping out of your comfort zone to find new personal growth. I learned so much as a teacher in South Central both as an educator and as a person. I was blessed to spend my year with so many great people.”
–Taylor Harvey, 2013-2014 “Doing a year of service with VSC was such a great decision. It allowed me to spend a year serving my community while I learned more about the healthcare field. It confirmed my desire to be a physician, and the experience I gained as a patient advocate has continued to serve me during my time in medical school. In addition, I absolutely loved San Francisco and the amazing group of kind and supportive people I lived with.”
–Heather Lougee, 2012-2013 “VSC confirmed my love for medicine and patient care. My VSC community showed me the importance of compassion and friendship. St. Francis ER was the most intense and absolutely incredible place I’ve ever been. My dream is to one day go back to work there as the physician it gave me the confidence to be.”
–Skyler McNulty, 2014-2015 “Awww. . . my goodness how VSC changed my life and my perception of the world. I made friendships and solid relationships that will last a lifetime. The five of us from my community still keep in contact on a weekly basis 🙂 As for my life choices, while some make me question my sanity. . .I do not regret any! The lessons I learned from my year of service have made me even more passionate about helping others and my community. When I graduate with my Master’s of Science in International Marketing in the fall, I aim to gain a job in the Corporate Social Responsibility sector of a company. This will give me the opportunity to combine my passions for Service and Marketing. It will allow me to show corporate employees the importance of serving others, giving back, and making a positive impact on the community!” -2018
–Ben Wickstrom, 2008-2009 “I remember fondly my year with VSC West”
–Caroline Murphy Ferrarone, 2010-2011 “I have been and always will be an advocate of the VSC Program – I loved my year as a volunteer.”
–Jordan Bouchard, 2014-2015 “I am beyond grateful for my VSC West experience! As a student at St. John’s University I fell in love with the Vincentian mission. I knew that I wanted to continue to learn and grow in my faith, and to continue living out the St. John’s charisms, and VSC West did just that! I grew so much as a person; Personally, professionally, emotionally, and spiritually. And so much of that is from growing from my community members! Sharing in values of social justice and dignity of every person we meet as SVdP calls us to do, learning from one another, and having fun together was the perfect combination to create life-long friendships! And I am happy to say I keep in touch with my volunteers and colleagues from my service site. I even ran a half marathon to support the organization that I continued to work for after doing similar work! My year of service gave me an opportunity to put my faith in action and truly live it out every day in service. Now, as a campus minister at St. John’s University (life has come full circle!) I love to share my experience with students and encourage them if they feel the call to do a year of service, say Yes!”
–Lauren Ippolito, 2017-2018 “VSC has been one of the biggest blessings of my life and it will always remain a part of me. I have had the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone; live in a beautiful city, work at the school of my dreams [De Marillac Academy], and live my best life. I have a deeper understanding of living out Vincentian charism, compassion for the poor & marginalized, and I’ve developed more professional skills.
Some wisdom for someone discerning a Year of Service:: DO IT!!
There are so many benefits to doing a year of service and I couldn’t be happier. Think about your values, your goals, your life’s opportunities…will doing a year of service fill those voids? The answer is YES!
–Bryan Keeler, 2004-2005 “I think I would say that not only was my year of service one of the most crazy, fun years of my life, but it also taught me through action to be a good, hardworking man with integrity.”
–Ada Lee, 2017-2018 “VSC allowed me to take the time to reflect on myself and understand my skills, purpose, and talents. It allowed me to grow in humility and in my faith with God. It gave me a clearer purpose in life and a better understanding on the impact I can make in other’s lives. More importantly, it has given me the confidence I needed to be my whole, true self and in learning I can do anything I set my mind to.”
–Amanda (Mandi) Reichmuth, 2008-2009 “I was in San Francisco at the Riley Center for my VSC year at The Riley Center’s Emergency Domestic Violence Shelter. I was a Case Manager working with the survivors who stayed in the shelter, staffing the hotline and learning so much about this amazing work. Being able to do this work, live in San Francisco, and be in a supportive intentional community is something I am so grateful for. I am now the Chief Programs Officer at RESPOND Inc, a Domestic Violence Agency near Boston, MA. I couldn’t have gotten here without the jumping off experience at VSC.” -March 2018
–Jessica Constantine, 2010-2011 “Since leaving VSC, some small changes have happened! Most recently, I was able to travel to Iceland, the land of fire and ice, and it was a refreshing experience. It’s always nice to travel and learn from the experiences. During this trip, I was reminded of simple living and that it’s important to see the value in community; complete strangers became support systems and friendships blossomed with just a simple hello or a smile. Being in a strange place forces us to self-reflect and connect, and that’s something truly beautiful.”
–Karen Martinez, 2015-2016 “I have recently obtained a job as an Employment Case Manager for ResCare WorkForce Services in San Diego. This program helps low-income families in CalWorks find well paying jobs that will allow them to become self sufficient for themselves and their families. I can honestly say that without VSC and all the work I did at the Riley Center, I would not be here today. So thanks to both of you and everyone at Riley for everything you have all taught me and experienced with me.”
–Jen Schooling, 2005-2006 “I think of my time with VSC often, and am still in touch with the rest of my community, even 11 years later. A year of service really does make a lifetime of difference!” -2017
–Katie Abel, 2006-2007 “If I had to pick one decision that has affected me the most in my adult life, it would be my decision to join VSC. My time with the program continues to develop and guide me in what I do, whether spiritually, socially, or professionally. I am grateful for the experiences I had with simple living (now I can budget!), with community (my VSC friends are still my best friends), with spirituality (a personal thing AND a community thing), and with service (the best way that we can love one another). It was truly the catalyst to a fulfilling life for me, and I would recommend the experience to anyone.”
–Andrew Callery, 2008-2009 “My service experience in San Francisco helped broaden my understanding of the cycle of poverty beyond what I had experienced growing up on the east coast. Working at De Marillac Academy (DMA), a Vincentian and Lasallian middle school in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco, each day I was reminded about the many privileges I had (and continue to have) as compared to those who lived around and were enrolled in the school. My interactions with students and parents at DMA helped to solidify my desire to help families improve their lives through education. This work inspired me to go on to earn my Masters in School Counseling, go back to work at DMA for a number of years, and move to my current position as the Director of Student Support at Sacred Heart Cathedral. I am now helping first-generation college students, many of whom come from low-income families, apply to and access higher education. Prior to my year with the VSC I knew I wanted to work in schools. During that year, and in the time since, I have continued to try and listen to God’s call for me, and I believe this has led to my work with the specific population that I do now. I attribute that direction (and intervention of the Holy Spirit) very much to the special work that I did as a Vincentian Service Corps West volunteer.
The only thing that comes to mind (and should not be the reason why one decides to volunteer, but is a practical consideration) is that it immediately equips college graduates with life-skills and work experience to add to a resume. There is no guarantee that college graduates will find immediate placement in the workforce after graduation if they go the non-volunteer route. By volunteering, however, there is the guarantee of job placement, having living expenses covered, and contributing to society while also earning those resume building items.” -November 2017
–Eileen Speaker, 2008-2009 “Working at a well-run nonprofit my first year out of college solidified my decision to work in the sector. Watching how the leaders of the organization could do so much good with so little inspired me to commit my life to this critical work. After my year of service, I went on to get a Master’s Degree in nonprofit administration and have since worked in the nonprofit and philanthropic worlds. I continue to work for social justice through the grant making I now do at a small community foundation.” -November 2017