Community Spotlight: John Green of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps

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Ignatian Volunteer Corps
740 N Calvert St # 500
Baltimore, MD 21202

What are people saying about Ignatian Volunteer Corps?

“What makes IVC special – they come with a wealth of experience, with professional backgrounds, with a maturity, and above all with a passion to be in service for the marginalized and those in need of help.”

— Gizachew Emiru, former Executive Director of TASSC International, Washington DC


Andrew Tomasetti: 0:00

Hello, and welcome to today's community spotlight, where I interview small businesses that I know and trust and introduce them to you. I'm your host, Andrew Tomasetti. And today I am joined with John Green of IVC. Yes. Thanks for joining us.


John Green: 0:17

Yeah. Thanks for having me.


Andrew Tomasetti: 0:18

Absolutely. So for our listeners who may not know what the IVC is, what is the IBC?


John Green: 0:25

So IVC stands for Ignatian Volunteer Corps, and the Ignatian Volunteer Corps is a service corps for individuals over the age of 50, who are interested in giving back, making the world a better place and using their professional skill set to do that.


Andrew Tomasetti: 0:43

Awesome and how did you get involved with it?


John Green: 0:46

So I did. When I graduated from college, I did a similar service corps year, that sent me away kind of like a domestic Peace Corps was called the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. And, and that was for after college, to have a year of experience and almost like taking a gap year, but getting some professional experience, but you also live in community and you live simply, and you learned about social justice and explore spirituality in a deeper way. The Ignatian Volunteer Corps IVC is a similar program, but it's for folks on the retirement end of the spectrum.


And so many people that are interested in doing service and giving back they have years of professional skill set or some skill set that they can offer to nonprofits, schools, or churches that they can benefit from and help people. And so I had this experience early on, I heard about IVC later on and wanted to be a part of it. And so I'm the Regional Director for Philadelphia and South Jersey, and support groups of service corps members in their placements and also established community with them.


Andrew Tomasetti: 2:02

Okay. And I would imagine, if you take this, this population that has all these skills, right, that's professionalized and are educated, you put them all in a room together, some pretty awesome stuff comes out. So do you have like a favorite project or event that you haven't done or have seen the IVC do?


John Green: 2:24

Well, so it's interesting, we have our service year follows a model. It's a 10 month commitment. And so our service corps members start in September, and they make a

commitment to stay until June. Part of that is their service at the place that I find for them. And we have people placed in schools we have, there's an urban farm in North Philly, where we have two people working right now, some people do administrative stuff like grant writing, or fundraising for organizations, it just varies, but they become a part of that community in the place where they serve.


But what I do is I bring them together once a month, and they form relationships with one another, they share their service site experience with one another to deepen their own and to be able to compare it a little bit. But it's also for the folks that come to IVC. Because of the spirituality component, they're digging deeper into what their larger purpose is, what their relationship is to, to God or to you know, bigger pictures, and sharing that with one another.


And so we don't have a specific event. But once a month, we bring them together, and they share what they've been doing in that timeframe. And it's pretty powerful there. They also do a retreat three times a year. And so we have one coming up in January, where they're going to work you're going to they're going to work with a woman who is going to teach them about listing as an active social justice. So there's things like that that we do.


Andrew Tomasetti: 4:03

Sure. And the organizations that you pair your volunteers with, how do you find them?


John Green: 4:09

So that's my job. Okay. And so I have three main things that I do. One is that I get the word out about our service opportunities to recruit people to join our community to join our service corps and figure out whether or not they want to make that commitment. The second thing I do is I partner with organizations and so sometimes I'll send an email or a letter to a director and say, you're doing great work.


Do you have the need for someone to work part time that you can save some money on not having to pay them but that they would actually do it in a volunteer capacity. And so sometimes that's the executive director, sometimes that's the volunteer coordinator. Sometimes it's a principal or someone you know, in some sort of administrative capacity, but I I have researched them and I hear through word often, sometimes an organization will take more than one person and I can kind of follow that route. Third thing is I do some fundraising, too. Okay.


Andrew Tomasetti: 5:10

Yeah. And if someone volunteers through the IVC, and you place them, is it 10 months, and then they're done, or if they want to go and volunteer their time again, kind of be a reoccurring thing.



John Green: 5:26

You know, it varies. So we did some data on this. And typically, when we bring someone into the service corps, they make, they make a commitment that lasts anywhere from five to seven years. And so when you think about that, sometimes an individual comes in, and they find this place that is like magic for them, and they just want to be there. And they stay there for their whole commitment. There are some folks who get an experience for a few years in one place.


And then they'll come back to me and say, I think I want to try something different. So I know I said, we match people with their skill sets. But there are also people that come in and say I was a teacher for 30 years, but I want to do something else. So I want to have a different experience. And I can work with that do also. Yeah, so typically, they're there from anywhere from five to seven years. And sometimes they stay in one place, or sometimes not.


Andrew Tomasetti: 6:20

And you ever get people under the age of 50, that come to you?


John Green: 6:23

I have had that. Sometimes they hear about it, they don't know the age piece. And so what's great about that is that we're kind of an open community. So I can say to people, this is what it would look like, in the next few years, when you get to a point where you're in our target population. Or they might be able to help me in an administrative sort of way, we have a six member Regional Council.


And those are people that I meet with once a month, who helped me locate new people locate new opportunities. And those are folks that can be of any age demographic, and it's really helpful to have younger people. As a woman I work with right now, who works at St. Joe's University. And she does a lot of service placements for college students. And those are typically the types of places that we place our IVC folks in. Um, so she's been really helpful in that way.


John Green: 7:21

Yeah. Now, do you ever get a couple that comes to you and say, Hey, we want to stay together? And can you place them jointly?


John Green: 7:33

Yeah. And you know, I'll make that work. Yeah, we do have a few couples that are in our community, they don't work in the same placement right now. It's interesting, like, we say, 50. And over, typically, the retirement age is around 65. So that's usually around the age when people come looking for us. And, and there's a whole lot of things going on in people's lives at that point, you know, you're thinking about, sometimes there's empty nest issues, there's identity issues around, you know, here was my career path for 40 years, I'm now not doing that anymore, but this is still part of my identity.


And then when it comes to people being in relationship to one another, they've been married for a long time. What do they do together? And what did they do separate? And then how do they bring that back around one another? And so it depends on where they're at. But I'll place them together or place them separately.


Andrew Tomasetti: 8:27

Awesome. And what's the level of commitment? Like, is this we're working 80 hours a week? Or is this you know, hey, we go for a couple hours in the morning and then hang out with the grandkids in the afternoon?


John Green: 8:39

Yeah, I think, um, so we asked for people to make either an eight hour commitment or a 16 hour commitment. So that would look like either one day a week or two days a week. And we do have some people. Like I have somebody who is running a soup kitchen through a local church. And she's there two days a week, there's a third day that that soup kitchen is open, but she staffs that with volunteers.


Other people like the people that I have working at, it's called sanctuary farm in North Philly. They flex their schedule, like they might have fewer hours in the colder months, and then they might ramp up in the summer. They might shift that around depending on vacation and whatnot. But it doesn't have to be eight hours one day, it could be eight hours over the course of two or three days. Depends on what people need. And I try not to micromanage that I just want to know what they're doing.


Andrew Tomasetti: 9:36

Sure. Awesome I'm gonna have people want to learn more about you or want to get in touch. What's the best way to reach him? Yeah, so


John Green: 9:42

We have a website, our our we're a national nonprofit and that website is And on the national website, there is a link to the Philadelphia South Jersey region where you'll see me and my email addresses Jgreen J G r e en People can reach out to me that way or 215-839-8415


Andrew Tomasetti: 10:11

Awesome. Well, this has been another community spotlight, where I interview people that I know and trust and introduce them to you. Thanks for joining us, John.


John Green: 10:20

Thank you.


Andrew Tomasetti: 10:21


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