advent means waiting

6 12 2012

Current JV Claire Smith (Gresham, OR ’12-13) shared a reflection with the Portland JVC Northwest community Tuesday evening at our annual Advent Gathering. The following paragraphs are an excerpt, for the rest of the reflection, click here to download: Advent means waiting-Claire Smith Reflection


JV Claire Smith (Gresham, OR ’12-13) shares her reflection at the Advent Gathering

As a child, I must confess, Advent frustrated me. I remember hearing the song “Oh come, oh come Emmanuel” far too many times – just get here, already! I wanted to get to the good songs like “Joy to the World” and “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”   I loved lighting the blue candles on our wreath, but I was impatient to light the tall, red one in the middle. Also, my parents are sticklers with our manger scene, not putting the baby Jesus in until Christmas Eve and keeping the three Wise Men out until Epiphany . . .  and it was hard for me to play pretend with the figurines while the main character was missing. My childhood impatience made the waiting of Advent difficult; the looking forward to Christmas was great, but it was hard to be content.

Since then, my attention span has grown; my ability to appreciate anticipation has increased. I understand why waiting is important; how the build-up of the wait can be as sweet as the arrival – as when a loved-one visits; how waiting can be a ritual that brings preparation – like taking a moment of reflection before beginning a spirituality night; how it is an unavoidable part of life – waiting in line, waiting to speak your turn, waiting until the tomatoes are ripe…

But I wonder if I am actually any better at Advent now?

Waiting, to me, can still be frustrating. I just want this community to be strong, already! I want to hurry up and end oppression. I’m tired of waiting for sustainability to be the norm instead of a notable exception. Waiting makes me recognize the limitations of my control. And it is often more difficult than taking action…

As I am coming to understand Advent this year, it is about slowing down enough to wait and see the presence of God with us. It is not a stagnant, passive waiting; not an excuse for apathy or inaction. It is an active waiting. An expectation. In Spanish, the word for “to wait” means simultaneously “wait,” “hope,” and “expect” – esperar. Three meanings layered into one whispering verb. It is an active stillness. It is perhaps paying attention as the internal pot boils over. To see what happens and to make an empty space – an inner capacity for peace – that can be filled with less turbulent waters of God’s presence.


blessed advent

4 12 2012

The JVC Northwest Staff wishes you a . . .

Blessed Advent Crop with Border

May you find peace and joy in this season of hopeful expectation!

#givingtuesday – get out the give

27 11 2012

Today is #GivingTuesday, a nationwide movement to encourage philanthropy and generosity during this holiday season. We are grateful to those who have already donated to JVC Northwest in honor of #GivingTuesday and encourage you to do the same and donate now!

JV AmeriCorps Member Sean McEvoy (Portland, OR ’11-12) serves with Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.

Giving to JVC Northwest this #GivingTuesday will support the 140 JVs currently serving around the Northwest and the 120,000 individuals they serve.

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

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