making it

15 11 2012

Area Director for the Omak, Wenatchee, Yakima, and Boise JV communities, Jess Heringer, shares about the recent endeavors of JVs who are embracing the value of simple living:

As a way to further embrace this year’s theme of “Rooted in the Radical” JVC Northwest gave each community a copy of the book Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World by Kelly Coyne and Erik Kutzen.  The book is an adventure in simple living, filled with projects that range from homemade condiments to building a chicken coop – all geared towards the joy of making things by hand – and laughing at the inevitable mishaps along the way.

Yakima JVs, James Harper and Anna Green, show the fruits of their labor: putting on homemade deodorant!

Led by Anna Green and James Harper, the Yakima JV community has jumped into exploring the value of simple living with gusto.  So far, the community has experimented with several recipes from Making It, concocting their own mustard, honey/vinegar drinks, hair gel, deodorant, chapstick, spicy pepper spread, sauerkraut, and face wash.  Anna explained, “Even though the mustard was too spicy, the hair gel a bit too egg-like, and the deodorant is not perfect, we are still determined to do 50 projects from the book this year!” While visiting Yakima on my area visit, I sampled some Sekanjabin, a traditional Iranian vinegar beverage with a hint of mint and ginger – it was delicious!  Anna shared, “These projects are tangible examples of how living simply may take a bit more time, a bit more creativity, and ultimately, a redefinition of how some things ought to be.” To the Yakima JVs and any community experimenting with Making It – keep up the great work!

making an impact

6 11 2012

Elizabeth Skurdahl, Development Coordinator, describes the impact JVs have on other nonprofit organizations throughout the Northwest. 

One of the amazing things about Jesuit Volunteers in the Northwest is how many organizations they help throughout the region. This year alone, JVs serve at 107 different nonprofit agencies in the social service, health, education, environmental, and advocacy sectors in five different states.

That means over the course of their service year, JVs will touch the lives of over 120,000 vulnerable women, men, and children.

That’s pretty incredible.

During the 2012-13 service year, JVs serve at:

69 Social Service Agencies and Ministries

Like Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL) in Sitka, AK, providing independent living services to seniors and people with disabilities.

“I am taken aback by moments where individuals, who may spend each day in the same routine, thinking about the same anxieties, finally reach a sense of self-empowerment through outdoor activities, feeling valued and engaged in the community, or reaching resolution in a particularly overwhelming or stressful issue in their life.”         – Current JV Nick Ponzetti (third from left)


12 Health Organizations

Like Terry Reilly Health Services in Boise, ID, a community clinic providing much needed medical, dental, and mental health care services for the homeless, uninsured, and under-insured.

“Having a JV RN at Terry Reilly enables the organization to offer more nursing care and education to patients, as well as to create and staff many outreach projects in the community.”

Current JV Nurse Daniela Aguilera-Titus




16 Schools and Education Programs

Like St. Charles Mission School in Pryor, MT, a Catholic school located on the Crow Native American Reservation.


“I have realized that by being myself and laughing with these kids, I was giving them permission to be themselves. I may not be able to change the conditions in which my students live during the year I serve them, but I can make an imprint on the way they view themselves.”           

 -Current JV Caroline Cataldo


5 Environmental Agencies

Like SOLVE in Portland, OR bringing together volunteers to improve the environment and create a legacy of stewardship of the earth.

“As an Environmental Education Specialist ‘Green Team’ Leader, I have about 1,300 students that work with me throughout the year, coming out to participate in hands-on service and education. It has been an incredible experience to foster a legacy of environmental stewardship in future generations and to meet so many passionate students.”         -Current JV Nicole Poletto (middle)

5 Advocacy Organizations 

Like Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle, WA empowering people living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS and other chronic conditions to lead healthier lives.


“I am learning how important advocacy work is in relation to social justice – it goes hand in hand with direct service. The significance of drafting grants and understanding federal guidelines is often overlooked, but each is vital to maintaining the programs upon which so many rely.”        

 -Current JV Jeremy Orbe


Jesuit Volunteers make a big impact on so many organizations throughout the Northwest. Their service helps these agencies carry out their vital work of making social and ecological justice a reality in our society.

raising awareness

1 11 2012

Liz Purdy, Outreach and Events Coordinator, reflects on her JV year at a domestic violence shelter and the continued commitment of JVs who walk alongside domestic violence survivors throughout the Northwest.

October marked Domestic Violence Awareness Month and, though the month is over, raising awareness about cycles of abuse and interpersonal violence continues. My first day as a JV, I walked into the local domestic violence shelter in Sitka, Alaska where I served as a women’s advocate, having little understanding of the complexities of domestic violence. Throughout the year, I came to learn that domestic violence is really an umbrella term for many interrelated issues—addiction, child abuse, verbal abuse, mental illness, etc.—often times all simultaneously contributing to an abusive situation.

Liz Purdy, right (Sitka, AK ’10-11) and Nick Campolettano, middle, (Sitka, AK ’09-10) carry the “Choose Respect” sign through Sitka showing local support for D.V. survivors.

My ideas of why women return to abusers, what kind of people are charged with felonies, who makes a good parent, and what defines healthy communication were all challenged during my year as a JV. I found myself walking alongside (sometimes literally, other times figuratively) survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, often in circumstances where I felt unable to offer anything but a listening ear, a smile, or simply my presence to women in crisis or who were processing trauma.

Current JV Claire Shepek (’12-13 Anchorage, AK) releases a lantern in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Though I only remained as a women’s advocate at the domestic violence shelter for my JV year, roughly ten percent of JVs currently serve in the field of domestic violence. Current JV Claire Shepek (’12-13 Anchorage, AK)  participated in a vigil for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, hosted by her placement agency, AWAIC. As part of the vigil there was a time of prayer for everyone affected, and then a chance to go outside and light lanterns (essentially mini hot air balloons) as a symbolic act of raising awareness. The Anchorage Daily News captured the evening with a gallery of beautiful photos.

video of funeral mass

8 10 2012

Thank you to Gonzaga University and St. Aloysius parish in Spokane, WA for making available the live stream and video of the funeral mass for Fr. Jack Morris, S.J. from Saturday, October 6, 2012.

Masses in honor of Fr. Jack Morris, S.J. will also take place in Seattle and Portland:


Friday, October 19

6 p.m. Mass, potluck following.

St. Joseph Parish

732 18th Ave East

Seattle, WA 98112


Friday, October 19

6 p.m. Mass, potluck following.

St. Ignatius Parish

3400 SE 43rd Ave

Portland, OR 97206

jack’s thoughts on death

1 10 2012

Steve McKindley-Ward was one of the Pilgrims who made the walk with Father Jack Morris, S.J. to Bethlehem in 1982 – 83. When Steve’s father died in 2008, Jack offered this image of death in a letter to Steve.

“I have this image of death.  I see myself on this train—I have a window seat—comfortable and pleasant, as I gaze out seeing mountains and plains, small towns and running streams, tall trees, bushes and grass—so many different greens.  Oh, I have my coffee, I snooze, and feel so very loose and comfortable knowing that I’m far closer to my destination than to where I got on the train.  I have this growing awareness that one day the train-man (or woman) will come into my car and in a firm, clear voice announce, “Next stop, Fr. Jack Morris!”  I’ll smile and instinctively reach down and check my luggage.  But I’ll smile more broadly as I realize that I don’t have a blessed thing.  The train will jerk and slow down, and jumping jeepers I’m floating down the aisle;  the train stops, the door opens, I float out noticing the absolutely beautiful meadow, the running stream, behind are orchards and hills, then lofty snow-covered mountains, and a pure blue sky.  Birds are singing.  So many people are rushing to the train—Holy Moses—it’s family, Jesuits, friends;  by god, there’s old Fr. George Zabelka—so many others.  Some are singing, some dancing, some bringing flowers.  The music is out of this world.  It’s all rather heavenly.  Only then do I realize it’s like Paradise!  No one has anything to hide.  We’re all perfectly free.”

services for father jack morris, s.j.

1 10 2012

VIGIL: Friday, October 5, 2012, 7 pm, Jesuit House Chapel, Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington

FUNERAL MASS:  Saturday, October 6, 2012, 10:00 am, St Aloysius Church, Spokane, Washington

For those unable to attend the funeral mass in Spokane, a live stream will be provided by Gonzaga University. A link for the live stream will be forthcoming.

BURIAL:  Saturday, October 6, 2012, 12:00 noon, Mt. St. Michael Cemetery, Spokane, Washington

Notes of condolence may be sent to his brother, Robert Morris, 750 State St., Unit 206, San Diego, CA  92101 or his brother, Patrick Morris, 5005 Balton Rd., Bethesda, MD 20816.

father jack morris, s.j. 1927-2012

1 10 2012

Fr. Jack Morris, SJ, co-founder of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps movement, visionary and inspiration to thousands of Jesuit Volunteers through the years, passed away early Sunday morning, September 30, 2012.

Arrangements are being made for services in Spokane, Washington, for either Friday, October 5 or Saturday, October 6.  We will keep you posted with information as we receive it from the Jesuits regarding the services in Spokane, memorial services in other cities, and opportunities to remember Jack. We ask for your prayers for Jack’s family, his Jesuit brothers, and all his many friends in the Jesuit Volunteer family. As you remember Jack, we invite you to pray this beautiful prayer Jack was inspired to write on the occasion of his ordination fifty years ago:

  “Mighty God, Father of all,
Compassionate God, Mother of all,
bless every person I have met,
every face I have seen,
every voice I have heard,
especially those most dear;
bless every city, town, and
street that I have known,
bless every sight I have seen,
every sound I have heard,
every object I have touched.
In some mysterious way these
have all fashioned my life;
all that I am,
I have received.
Great God, bless the world.”


Jeanne Haster
Executive Director, JVC Northwest

bike commute challenge month

25 09 2012

Rachel Mathiowetz, Program Assistant, reflects on JVC Northwest’s values of simple living and ecological justice through her first bike commuting experience.

Julia Peters, Lead Area Director, announced in late August, “September is BIKE COMMUTE CHALLENGE month! Let’s do it!” Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s Bike Commute Challenge happens every September in Portland, encouraging employees to commute to work by bike and have the highest percentage of bicycle commutes in order to win prizes, reduce the amount of CO2 in the air, and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

I had never bike commuted before, but since moving to Portland a year ago, and especially since working at JVC Northwest where a high percentage of the staff commutes by bike, I have wanted to give it a try. It all starts out with the thought, then the push to actually do it. My push was the bike commute challenge.

On the first day of the challenge, I hopped on my fiancés heavy, old bike he purchased from a thrift store, and finally got over the anxiety of trying something new. I was amazed at how close I felt to the road, to my environment, and the neighborhoods I biked through. I could feel the early morning air on my face and hear the sounds of Portland waking up. I also felt my lack of stamina as I rode on roads that never seemed to have an incline before and suddenly felt longer than I remembered. Of course, I realized that biking on a road and driving on a road are two very different experiences!

By the time I got to work, after biking two miles to the MAX train station, a forty minute MAX ride, and another two mile bike ride to the JVC Northwest office, I was sweaty, out of breath, and my legs felt like jelly, but I felt incredible knowing I completed my first bike commute to work. I had an energy and alertness throughout the day from the exercise that a person can’t get from coffee alone!

Since then, I definitely have not bike commuted every day—I dealt with my first flat tire and had my first lesson in bike maintenance. However, I’m so thankful for the extra push and inspiration from the Bike Commute Challenge and Julia’s enthusiasm. I want to continue a personal challenge to bike commute and to learn more about bike maintenance. For those who don’t live in Portland, it may not be as easy to find the resources you need for an easy commute. Your town may not have bike lanes, and vehicles may not be used to watching for bikers. It’s important to try it anyway, though. There’s no need to have the most expensive gear, you can use local resources like bike co-ops to find inexpensive bikes and to learn about maintenance, and there are many ways to bike safely in traffic and to make yourself seen. So, push yourself to try it, even just once! “Let’s do it!”

With only three days left of the challenge, team Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest has logged a total of:

101 trips, 463.4 miles, 39.8% commute rate

For further, somewhat comical inspiration, see our biking videos on YouTube.

god’s sense of humor

18 09 2012

Maureen Hovenkotter, the new Program Coordinator for Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps, reflects on her journey of recently leaving retired life and joining the JVC Northwest staff:

I am often struck by God’s sense of humor and how we sometimes receive answers to questions we didn’t even know we’d asked.  A month ago I was retired, just taking life easy; going back to work – especially full time – was the last thing on my mind.  I was safe and secure, not too challenged or stressed, though sometimes feeling a little bored and empty. Now I find myself asking, “Oh, my Lord! What have I done?” or maybe more appropriately, “Oh Lord, what have YOU done?”

Since agreeing in August to coordinate the Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps program – which provides opportunities for people 50 and over to stay engaged in a world that very much still needs them – my quiet, safe little life has changed dramatically. Maybe I’m becoming the change I hope to see in the world.

While I was blessed to be able to take early retirement from a job with the U.S. Senate several years ago, in truth I often felt a little disconnected from life. I had lost my sense of purpose. It felt like I wasn’t doing much to make a difference in the world. As a widow, I was spending too much time alone.

Fulfilling this need to stay engaged, to be part of something bigger, is exactly what JVE is about.  There’s a funny, but poignant, line in the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, in which the young manager talks about India being a place where western societies could “off-shore” elderly people. It says a lot about our attitudes towards aging and our preference for youth. But contrary to those attitudes, people do not become surplus when they get older or retire.

JVE was started as a dream to help fill the needs of older people to still matter, to still have community, to grow in their faith, to have a place at the table, and to allow them to continue to use their wisdom, gifts and life experience to help others.  I realized I was being invited to support and further this effort, which was worth giving up my free time.  So my days of taking my dog on long walks, of staying up late and rising whenever I wanted, of puttering in the garden, of spontaneous trips to the Oregon Coast,  and endless games of Spider Solitaire have come to an end.  Instead, I find myself surrounded by the contagious energy and enthusiasm of wonderful co-workers who are younger than my daughter and son.

Despite feeling overwhelmed, no longer quite as safe, secure and settled, I feel life returning. I have a renewed sense of purpose. I hope to create opportunities for other people my age to experience those feelings through participation in EnCorps.  It’s like I had been coasting, hiding out from life, from God. But God always knew where I was and what I needed and continues to lead me.  I find reassurance in the words  of Psalm 139, “Lord, you have probed me, you know when I sit and when I stand.  .  . If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand holds me fast.”

rooted in the radical: fr. jack morris, s.j. and brother fred mercy, s.j.

13 09 2012

Area Director, Megan Bell, highlights an article from the Spokesman Review last month showing that, like our Orientation 2012 theme states, those who began JVC Northwest have been and still are, Rooted in the Radical:

Brother Fred Mercy, S.J. and Father Jack Morris, S.J. sharing their experience of the Peace Pilgrimage to Bethlehem at JVC Northwest Orientation in 2011.

Father Jack Morris, S.J. was instrumental in the founding of JVC Northwest and has been an integral part of the JVC Northwest community and history for the past 56 years.

With Father Jack Morris, S.J. and Brother Fred Mercy, S.J. now residing in Spokane, Washington, journalist Shawn Vestal was able to interview them and gather their thoughts on their Peace Pilgrimage to Bethlehem 30 years ago.

For over a decade, Fr. Jack Morris, S.J. and Br. Fred Mercy, S.J. have inspired Jesuit Volunteers at the JVC Northwest Orientation with their famous bantering while sharing their experience on the Peace Walk to Bethlehem. As Morris celebrates his 50th year as a Jesuit this year, Vestal affirms Morris and Mercy as, “bracing examples of a radically humane Christianity.”


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