FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What Is WVC?
The Westmoreland Volunteer Corps (WVC) is an eleven-month domestic service program. It offers young adults, typically recent college graduates, opportunities to work in direct social service or advocacy through internships with Washington area service and advocacy organizations. Individual spiritual growth is encouraged as Volunteers share a simple lifestyle in an intentional community.
Where Do Volunteers Live? What Is Intentional Community?
Volunteers live in a former parsonage in Bethesda, MD, with easy access to public transportation (bus and Metro). Each volunteer is assigned their own bedroom, but shares usage of the three full bathrooms and one half bath. Volunteers share cooking and household chores in the furnished house. Community meetings are expected one evening each week and are facilitated by the community counselor, who provides support for community living, spiritual growth, adaptation to new and sometimes stressful work environments, and assistance with planning the three retreats.
Where Do Volunteers Work?
Jobs are available in approximately nine agencies in Washington, DC, and suburban Maryland and Virginia. The range of their missions includes critical work: advocacy for immigrants threatened with deportation; employment counseling for incarcerated individuals; case workers for at-risk youth, assisting in providing maternal/child health care and health care to needy individuals; and job counseling and social services for the long term unemployed. Bilingual placements, particularly English/Spanish are possible. WVC works with the applicant's preferences; however, applicants need to be flexible about going where they are needed. To finalize the placement, the Volunteer must choose the agency, and the agency must choose the Volunteer. Volunteers' jobs are full-time.
What Are The Financial Arrangements? Do Volunteers Get Paid?
Agencies where Volunteers work provide a $650 monthly stipend from which the Volunteers pay for housing, food, and modest personal expenses. Agencies also cover transportation to and from work (usually with a bus/Metro pass) and provide medical insurance if the Volunteer is not covered through their parents’ plan. Volunteers are reimbursed up to $250 for one out-of-town trip during the year. Volunteers also participate in three weekend retreats during the year and the national interfaith gathering, Ecumenical Advocacy Days, at no charge. Volunteers find the living allowance adequate to cover their needs.
How Long Is The WVC Commitment? When Does It Start And End?
WVC requires an eleven-month commitment. All Volunteers arrive on Thursday, August 2, 2018, move into the Volunteer House, get to know one another and their community counselor, and participate in orientation activities. Work begins the following Monday, August 6, 2018. Volunteers are welcomed at a service at Westmoreland Church in mid-September. Volunteers are committed to WVC and their placements until Sunday, June 30, 2019.
Do Volunteers Need To Be U.S. Citizens?
No. They do, however, need to be able to independently obtain a work visa or a United States national or a lawful permanent resident alien.
How And When Do Volunteers Apply?
Click on the Application button on this website. Applications for the 2018-19 year will be accepted from January 2, 2018 through March 1, 2018, with a priority given to those who submit by February 15, 2018. WVC board members review applications. Candidates are then contacted for a telephone interview, followed by a possible visit. Finalists spend 2 nights in the Washington, DC area - one as a guest of a WVC board member, and the other at the Volunteer House. Travel expenses are reimbursed for candidates. During visits, meetings are scheduled with potential agencies, WVC board members, current Volunteers, Westmoreland Church's minister, and WVC's community counselor. Decisions on acceptance and agency placement follow candidates’ visits, generally within 2-3 weeks.
What is the role of the community counselor?
The community counselor assists the Volunteers in their personal growth and spiritual journey during their year of service. Through weekly gatherings, the counselor provides guidance, support and assistance to the Volunteers. He/she helps volunteers develop norms for living together in intentional community and facilitates discussions helping volunteers deal with the challenges of working with the poor and disenfranchised.
How Did WVC Begin?
WVC was founded in Bethesda, MD, by Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ in 1985 as an extension of the church's statement of purpose: "Our ideal is a church of the open mind, the aspiring soul, and the social vision, which ever seeks to express, in all ways of life, the mind and spirit of Jesus . . . and to labor together for the betterment of humankind . . ." Since its beginning, the Westmoreland Volunteer Corps has placed more than 100 volunteers in a wide variety of social service agencies.
How Is WVC Governed And Funded?
WVC is managed by a volunteer board of 10 - 12 active church members who serve as mentors and advisors to the Volunteers. The WVC board develops and manages budgets, sets policies, hires the community counselor, evaluates procedures, and carries out the screening and selection of volunteers. The board is a subcommittee of Westmoreland's Outreach Ministry, which is devoted to increasing the church's social service commitment through grants, advocacy, and volunteer opportunities.
The WVC has several sources of support. The host agencies for each year's Volunteers provide support. The Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ provides convenient housing at a favorable rate. WVC board members, other individuals, and private fund-raising activities are a third source of funding.