LVC Cities

LVC Cities

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LVC Volunteers are matched with nearly 90 non-profits in 13 cities stretching from coast to coast of the United States. Each LVC Placement City has a regional program manager, local support network, and supporting congregations that are available to offer support and assistance to LVC Volunteers. Volunteer houses are located as close as possible to the placement organizations, and the commuting time varies for each Volunteer. Some Volunteers live next door to where they serve, some have more than an hour commute on the bus or rail, and other volunteers have a position that requires a car. The following are general descriptions of LVC locations, including the year it became a LVC city.

Washington, DC

LVC Placement City since 1979 - Dag Hammarskjöld and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Emmaus Houses

From its beginnings as an undeveloped rural area, to its initial planning as the nation's capital, to its growth in size and infrastructure at the turn of the 20th century, to its place today as a political, economic, and cultural center, Washington, DC, has engaging stories to tell about the people and places that have helped shape Lutheran Volunteer Corps…and the Nation! LVC began in Washington, DC, as a ministry of Luther Place Church. Over the years, the program has continued to expand and develop, partnering with several cities across the United States. Despite being the capital of our nation, Washington, DC, faces the same challenges that most urban areas in the US face: homelessness, poverty, affordable health care, public education, gentrification and more. An example of this reality can be seen daily on the streets close to the White House where homeless men and women sleep on heating grates. While some of LVC’s advocacy positions are in DC, there are also many placements and positions that work directly with people to serve their immediate needs. Finally, spattered with Smithsonian museums, events on the National Mall, Gardens, Monuments, Zoo, Parks, Theaters, DC residents are spoiled (even overwhelmed!) by the plethora of activities one could attend (for free!) on any given day.

Dag Hammarskjöld was the second General Secretary of the United Nations. We share his dream of a world of peace grounded in justice.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke out against the Nazi Regime, motivated deeply by his faith. We share his resolve to fight corrupt systems.

On the road to Emmaus, Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. We rejoice in new life found in community.

Wilmington, DE

LVC Placement City since 1982 - Koinonia House

Wilmington is the largest city in the state of Delaware, and with an economy based in the financial sector and chemical giant DuPont, its downtown demonstrates the sophistication of other East Coast cities. At the same time, Wilmington is small enough to be accessible, with much of the city in easy walking distance. Because of its location on the eastern seaboard, Wilmington has plenty of “big city” issues; drug addictions, homelessness, mental illness, housing shortages, and poverty are but a few of the serious problems. Wilmington also exceeds national averages in the rate of teen births, unemployment, and cancer. Volunteers in Wilmington appreciate the many free or low-cost cultural opportunities in Wilmington and nearby Philadelphia, and Wilmington’s caring, enthusiastically supportive LVC community. Be ready to learn what it means to have Delaware pride!

Koinonia comes from the Greek word that means communion by intimate participation. Koinonia - Communion, Community, Relationship and Full Participation.

Baltimore, MD

LVC Placement City since 1983 - Simunye House

Known as “Charm City,” Baltimore has the quirky, distinctive feel of a city that combines Southern influences with industrial working-class roots. Films by Baltimore native John Waters highlight neighborhoods like Hampden, where the locals call you “hon,” and where a giant pink flamingo hovers over The Avenue. Baltimore also has a proud African American heritage. Birthplace to Frederick Douglass and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Baltimore is home to the NAACP headquarters and features the East Coast’s largest African American history museum. The Inner Harbor and many large in-town parks add to the city’s beauty and interest. Some of Baltimore’s key struggles include drug addiction, homelessness, and the woes caused by a national economy that has transitioned away from domestic industry. Volunteers will appreciate the many cultural festivals, the excellent library system, and the multiple sports opportunities that Baltimore offers.

Simunye means "We are one" in Zulu. In the work of justice, we are more when we support each other as one.

Chicago, IL

LVC Placement City since 1983 - Casa Oscar Romero House

Third largest city in the USA, Chicago, (aka "The Windy City," "The Second City," and "ChiTown") is gritty, energetic, and full of opportunities to experience the best and the most challenging of urban living. Chicago is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and in the heart of the nation and the Midwest. Chicago has 46 museums, more than 200 theaters, 29 miles of lakefront, 552 parks, and 18 miles of lakefront bicycle paths. It is a city of immigrants from around the world. Ironically, ChiTown is also one of the most segregated cities in America. It stands to reason that this city is rich in history with people working within their communities for change. The Hay Market Riot (commemorated worldwide on May 1st) and prominent national organizers Saul Alinsky, Jesse Jackson, and Jane Addams are some examples.

Oscar Romero spoke out boldly on behalf of the poor in El Salvador, in the midst of a civil war. We continue in his spirit of courageous advocacy and love.

Milwaukee, WI

LVC Placement City since 1985 - Dorothy Day and new Food Justice Houses

With a metro area of 1.5 million, Milwaukee offers the attractions of a big city without feeling like one. During the warmer months, Milwaukeeans enjoy a full calendar of outdoor festivals and concerts, while picnics, community gatherings, and neighborhood pick-up games are regular happenings in the City's numerous parks. Volunteers can make use of the city's award-winning bus system. There is also easy access by bicycle to most parts of the city, including the Lake Michigan beachfront. Milwaukee has numerous theater venues, university-sponsored speakers, a new art museum, and yes, beer tours! Milwaukee suffers from severe residential segregation and the disparities in jobs, education, crime, and housing that this produces. More than one in four Milwaukee residents lived in poverty in 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Milwaukee has the 8th-highest poverty rate of large U.S. cities. In the face of daunting social needs, Milwaukee’s community groups have intensified their efforts to promote social change. MICAH, an interfaith group of congregations in Milwaukee, sets a nationally-recognized example for faith-based organizations working for social justice.

Dorothy Day co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement, serving the poor and advocating for non-violence and hospitality. We share her commitment to humble service.

The Food Justice House is new for 2016-17, partnering with local urban agriculture projects to increase the communities’ capacity to produce and distribute fresh produce, expand the organizations' capaacity for food justice work and explore the Volunteers' vocations in food justice.

Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul), MN

LVC Placement Cities since 1991 - Imani, Wellstone and Winona Houses

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area, collectively called the Twin Cities, forms the progressive heart of the upper Midwest and is one of the best places to live for nature lovers, musicians, and activists. There are almost 200,000 acres of public parkland in the area, dotted with lakes, criss-crossed with bicycle paths, and offering recreational opportunities during all seasons. Many bicycle-commuters use a combination of public park bike paths plus on-road bike lanes to get to work, or take their bike on the bus or light-rail system to ease the trip. Numerous co-op grocery stores further enhance the possibility for a sustainable urban lifestyle. Minneapolis is said to have one of the best local music scenes, while visual art and theater are also abundant in the area. Many refugee and immigrant groups call the Twin Cities home, bringing East and West African, Southeast Asian, and Central/South American influences. While there is significant diversity in the Cities, it is far from being an interdependent multicultural community. By living in diverse neighborhoods and working in antiracist ways on critical issues like housing, workers rights, education, and full LGBTQ inclusion in churches, volunteers can participate in changing the Twin Cities from being merely progressive to being a just place to live.

Imani means "faith" in Swahili. We draw on our faith to serve the greater community and each other.

In the Lakota and Dakota language, Winona means "Strong Woman." We rejoice in the strength that women bring to the struggle for justice and peace.

Paul and Sheila Wellstone were known for their political work for peace and justice, but in 1996, U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act. He later asked his supporters to educate him and by 2001, Wellstone admitted he had made a mistake. We, too, make mistakes, but through learning from each other, we are made stronger.

Omaha, NE

LVC Placement City since 2009 - Hillstrom House

Located on the banks of the Missouri River, Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska. In the 19th century, Omaha became a transportation hub for the railroads, and in the 20th century the stockyards and meat packing plants gained national prominence. This is beef country. Vegetarians don’t despair! The former ag markets downtown have been revitalized! Every Saturday from March until October you can find all varieties of local and organic produce at the Farmers Market. Because of Omaha’s former meat packing industry, the metro area became home to waves of European immigrants, which over time changed to Latino and African immigrants. Like any city experiencing a large influx of new people, Omaha became very segregated by neighborhood. While the city of Malcolm X’s birthplace still struggles to integrate, major grassroots efforts are being led by people of the community to promote education, job growth, and family development. Also, Omaha is home to the NCAA’s College World Series every June! In Omaha, there is a major independent music scene (home to Saddlecreek Records), deep Jazz roots, the largest community theater in the United States, a beautiful riverfront, fair trade coffee shops, independent theaters, and a top ranked zoo. Omaha just may surprise you!

Active in the Omaha Lutheran community, Alice Hillstrom gave generously to the mission and work of Lutheran Service Corps. We honor her spirit of generous commitment, and seek to live it out in our service.

Seattle, WA

LVC Placement City since 1995 - Sula House

Situated on the waters of Elliot Bay, Seattle is a vibrant meeting place of diverse cultures: Native American, Asian Pacific, Hispanic, African, African American, Eastern European, and others. This diversity is reflected in the art, the restaurants, and the languages you hear on city buses. The city that brought us the $4 coffee, Seattle is home of Starbucks, Amazon.com, and Microsoft and has become increasingly corporate as these upstarts have grown into giants. Although the rapid redevelopment has put the squeeze on working class residents, Seattle still retains quirky local flavor in its neighborhoods. The city has cleaned up since the days of grunge in the 90s, but the live music scene is still lively and wildly experimental (read: sometimes brilliant…well, at least it’s never dull). Free entertainment and recreation are easy to come by, with festivals at the Seattle Center (in the shadow of the Space Needle), fish mongers and artisans at Pike’s Place Market, and an amazing parks system that showcases the many lakes and forests within the city.

Sula means "Peace" in Paschtu. We seek harmony, balance and peace in our relationships.

Tacoma, WA

LVC Placement City since 1996 – Nelson and Winnie Mandela House

The city of Tacoma, on the South Puget Sound in Washington State is a small (pop. 215,000) and beautiful city. Its name is drawn from the Native American word for Mt. Rainer --“Tahoma” meaning “Mother of the Waters”-- the spectacular volcanic peak which emerges from the clouds on clear days to inspire awe even in lifelong residents. Tacoma’s bustling downtown sits right on Commencement Bay. Traditionally a blue-collar mill and port city, Tacoma is also home to several universities, including Pacific Lutheran, University of Puget Sound, and a branch campus of the U of Washington. Residents enjoy miles of parks, great museums (including an art museum, the State History Museum, and the Glass Museum, where you can watch live demonstrations of glass-blowing), and plenty of cozy local coffee shops. Volunteers also have access to lots of great art, music, and other culture via a bus trip to Seattle, an hour to the north, or day trips to go hiking in the nearby Cascade Mountains.

Nelson and Winnie Mandela fought apartheid in South Africa. We continue in the struggle against racism in our own country.

Bay Area (Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco), CA

LVC Placement Area since 2003 – Ella Baker House

The East Bay (Berkeley and Oakland) and San Francisco area is one of the most ethnically diverse urban areas in the United States, reflecting the diversity of California as a whole, and greatly influenced by its position on the Pacific Rim. Known for its technological innovations, the area has also set progressive precedents in GLBT and disability rights. Volunteers live and work in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. There is great contrast between the cities and also within them, as housing and living prices continue to rise dramatically across the region. While costs are lower in the East Bay, more than twenty percent of all families in Oakland (where both parents are present) are living below the poverty level. That percentage almost doubles in single parent homes, making Oakland one of the poorer cities in America. Volunteers can enjoy many outstanding parks, museums, and historic neighborhoods, as well as an enthusiastic support community.

Ella Baker cultivated a new generation of activists in the Civil Rights Movement. We share her commitment to recognizing gifts in all people.

When were LVC cities added?

1979:    Washington, DC
1982:    Baltimore, MD
              Wilmington, DE
1984:    Chicago, IL
              Jersey City, NJ
1985:    Milwaukee, WI
1986:    Jersey City (Closed)
1991:    Minneapolis, MN
              St. Paul, MN
1995:    Seattle, WA
1996:    Tacoma, WA
2003:    Bay Area, CA
2009:    Omaha, NE
2010:    Atlanta, GA
              Detroit, MI
              Port Huron, MI
2012:    Detroit & Port Huron, MI (Suspended)
2014:    Atlanta (Suspended)