- What is LVC?
- How and when do volunteers apply?
- What are the qualifications for being a volunteer?
- What are the chances of getting in?
- How long is the LVC commitment? When does it start?
- Do volunteers get paid?
- What about my student loans during my LVC year?
- Where do volunteers serve?
- What skills do volunteers need?
- Do volunteers have to be United States citizens?
- Do volunteers get vacation?
- What are the placement schedules like?
- Where do volunteers live?
- What is intentional community?
- Are the neighborhoods safe?
- How simple is simple? What is the LVC lifestyle like?
- How is faith and spirituality lived out?
- What is LVC's affiliation with the Lutheran church?
- How is LVC different from other volunteer programs?
- What do most volunteers do after their LVC year?
- Do you accept couples into LVC?
- Can people do LVC with dependent children?
What is LVC?
Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) is a one-year national volunteer service program. It is for people who want to explore their spirituality while working for social justice, living in intentional community with other volunteers, and practicing sustainability in all aspects of their lives.
LVC was founded in 1979 by Luther Place Memorial Church (Washington, DC) . Since its beginning, Lutheran Volunteer Corps has matched over 2,500 volunteers with social service organizations in thirteen cities across the country.
How and when do volunteers apply?
Online Volunteer applications for the upcoming year can be found here. Applications must be submitted along with three references and a resume by the listed Round 1 or Round 2 deadlines. In order to have the widest variety of agencies available, it is best to apply early. The application review process begins in January for Round 1 and April for Round 2.
Only selected applicants will be contacted for an interview with LVC, and then notified of their acceptance into the program. Accepted applicants then interview with several organizations in their area of interest until a mutually satisfying placement is found. Accepted and matched Volunteers begin this full-time, 12 month program in August.
Please click here for an overview of the LVC Volunteer application.
What are the qualifications for being a volunteer?
LVC welcomes applications from persons who are 21 or older and who are self-motivated, mature, and stable. Volunteers should want to grow in the areas of spirituality, justice, community, and simplicity/sustainability. Volunteers often find themselves in new and unexpected situations, so flexibility, openness, and a sense of humor are essential.
LVC is open to persons from all spiritual traditions. LVC does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, race, creed, age, culture, disability, economic class, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
Because of the nature of the service and community life, applicants are requested to be in good physical and emotional health. Those in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse are requested to have a minimum of two years sobriety before applying.
What are the chances of getting in?
Over the years, Lutheran Volunteer Corps has become more and more competitive. It is important to submit a completed application on or BEFORE the deadline. With that said, your chances are good if you meet the basic qualifications and are flexible about where you will go. Each application is carefully screened by a member of the LVC staff to make sure the applicant understands the commitments, is well motivated, and is emotionally stable.
How long is the LVC commitment? When does it start?
LVC requires a one-year commitment. All volunteers gather in mid-August for a week-long orientation. Volunteers then travel to their placement cities for the start of their volunteer year. Volunteers are committed to LVC and their placements until late July of the following year.
Do volunteers get paid?
Yes! Volunteers receive a monthly stipend to cover housing, food, travel and basic personal needs. Volunteers participate in retreats or program days during the year and receive a minimum of two weeks vacation. Additionally, Volunteers are reimbursed for travel to their LVC city and for travel at the close of the year assuming they successfully complete the year with LVC.
Volunteers have found the aformentioned living allowance adequate to cover their basic living expenses. In other words, Lutheran Volunteer Corps provides for your basic needs so that you can live out your passion in the world!
What about my student loans during my LVC year?
Federally guaranteed student loans typically can be deferred, put on forbearance or be paid through an income-driven repayment plan. For private loans, it varies by lender. Check with your university and/or lending institution to confirm eligibility and to obtain the appropriate forms. Please know that it is ultimately up to the LVC Volunteer to educate themselves on options for their student loans and to complete any required documentation.
Start here for information about federal loans, along with this document about LVC Service & Student Loans. And here are a few additional resources from Student Loan Expert Heather Jarvis, askheatherjarvis.com:
- Student Loan Resource Sites
- How to Inventory Loans
- Federal Student Loan Repayment Options
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness Guide for Employers (updated March 2013)
Where do volunteers serve?
Volunteers servce within their communities to tackle challenges in dozens of areas including education, public safety, human needs, and the environment. Each placement organization must provide a substantive and meaningful service experience for the volunteer and must be broadly committed to goals of social justice. Many programs offer the opportunity for hands-on direct service. Others look to volunteers to help coordinate, develop and manage projects by fundraising, recruiting volunteers, or creating systems that change communities.
Placements are varied and include schools, environmental organizations, shelters, programs for women and youth, medical and legal clinics, refugee services, public policy organizations, community organizers, senior service providers, food banks, and general social services.
LVC works with the applicant's preferences; however, applicants need to be flexible about going where there is a need. To finalize a placement, the volunteer must choose the organization and the organization must choose the volunteer.
Click here for a list of LVC placement city descriptions.
Click here for a list of current placement organizations.
What skills do volunteers need?
People from all skill backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Some programs have specific skill needs (ex. spanish fluency), and others look for a bachelor's degree (ex. nursing) or a few years of related volunteer or job experience (ex. childcare).
Do volunteers have to be United States citizens?
No, but you need to secure your own work visa.
LVC welcomes applications from international students who are currently studying in the US. Due to visa extension requirements issued by US State Department and Immigration Services, please contact Elizabeth Flomo, Recruitment & Outreach Manager, at 612-787-8844 to discuss your application. All international applicants are required to take the necessary steps to secure their visa extension. You may find more information at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html#15.
LVC also has partnerships with service organizations in Germany and the United Kingdom. If you are a German or British citizen, please contact Elizabeth Flomo at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how to apply to LVC through our partner organizations in these countries.
At this time we are not able to accept applications from foreign nationals who are not currently in the United States on a visa or from applicants other than our partner organizations in Germany and the United Kingdom.
Do volunteers get vacation?
Volunteers adhere to the vacation policies of their placement organizations and are granted a minimum of two weeks vacation per year. LVC also has time for retreats or workshop days for volunteers; this is not counted within the two weeks of vacation.
What are the placement schedules like?
The schedule at your placement depends on the position description. Most follow a 40-hour week with weekends off; however, some positions require some evening, overnight and weekend hours.
Where do volunteers live?
Volunteers live in low to middle income, racially diverse communities with three to six fellow volunteers. When deciding upon the location of each house, local supporters and staff consider many different factors including access to public transportation, proximity to placement sites, and safety.
Volunteers often share bedrooms, but in some cases have their own rooms. Homes are adequately but simply furnished with donated kitchen supplies and furniture.
What is intentional community?
As a community of four to seven individuals, volunteers meet for community business and fun once a week. Each community also meets together once a month for spirituality and faith dialogue. Volunteers decide together how to handle finances, when to meet, how to make decisions, how to resolve conflict, and who is responsible for which household tasks. Through these conversations and activities, the household becomes a support system--an intentional community. Together, volunteers are able to cope with the challenges as well as celebrate the joys of the volunteer year.
Are the neighborhoods safe?
As in any city, crime happens in LVC placement cities. Volunteers are encouraged to explore the cities they live in and get to know their neighbors. Volunteers' most common experiences with crime are petty thefts of things like iPods and bikes.
There are some built-in safety factors. For example, all volunteers attend a personal safety seminar at orientation. Additionally, living in community means that someone in the community will more likely be around. Local Support Committees and former volunteers are neighborhood resources as well.
How simple is simple? What is the LVC lifestyle like?
LVC provides for the basic needs of volunteers so that they can live out their passion in the world. In an act of solidarity and consciousness, volunteers are asked live within the personal stipend each month. Because intentional community takes time and energy, volunteers are also asked not to work for pay outside of their placement or to take classes for credit. Many volunteers bring musical instruments, computers, cell phones, bikes, etc. Each volunteer must ask for themselves how they would separate their "needs" from their "wants" during this year of simplicity and sustainability.
Living simply is one of the harder challenges that the volunteers face in our world of plenty. This is because living simply is much more than living on a "modest" volunteer stipend. One must also consider the use of time and resources. The LVC experience invites individuals to embrace a year of simplicity and sustainability in order to open their hearts and minds to the needs of their local and global communities.
How is faith and spirituality lived out?
LVC is open to people from all spiritual journeys. About one-third of volunteers come from Lutheran backgrounds. Some may not identify with a particular faith or denomination. Some may be outwardly disciplined in their religious practices while others may not.
LVC requires that volunteers be open to exploring and experiencing faith and spirituality with others. Volunteers are expected to share in a faith/spiritual centered activity with one another at least once a month and be willing to participate in worship services at orientation and retreats. Volunteers are encouraged to seek outside spiritual communities as well.
What is LVC's affiliation with the Lutheran church?
Founded in 1979 as a ministry of Luther Place Memorial Church, and sustained and nurtured by that congregation, Lutheran Volunteer Corps is a Christian ministry steeped in Lutheran traditions and theology, but open to persons of all faith traditions. It is the intent of Lutheran Volunteer Corps to maintain affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). On this firm foundation Lutheran Volunteer Corps continues to grow and serve the community. (From LVC Bylaw, Section 5)
Recently about one-third of LVC Volunteers are Lutheran, one-third are from other Christian denominations and the last one-third come from a variety of other religious and spiritual traditions, and atheism or agnosticism. LVC is also not under the authority of any particular church organization and is governed by an independent, national board of directors (most of whom are Lutheran and some of whom are not).
How is LVC different from other volunteer programs?
LVC's Journey to an Inclusive Community stands out as an aspect that sets LVC apart as well. This emphasis means that an intentional part of the program is deeply exploring racism and other forms of oppression as well as ensuring that placements and LVC houses are not only open, but affirming of LGBTQ persons in all aspects of life and work.
Addtionally, LVC has long been known as a program that provides a year of service in a larger context of support and reflection.
An LVC staff member serves as a support person to volunteers in each city. This staff person is a listening ear, conflict mediator, and facilitator of communication between volunteers, placements and staff. In addition, each city has a group of local supporters composed of former volunteers, pastors and other interested individuals. This group supplies information, addresses practical needs, and provides other resources for volunteers. Each community works with a local support team on community issues throughout the year. This is especially helpful as communities set goals and expectations for the year.
LVC also schedules retreats or program days each year. These retreats or program days provide time for reflection, discussion, and recreation.
What do most volunteers do after their LVC year?
For many, the LVC experience is the beginning of a life-long commitment to working for justice and peace. About ten percent of volunteers decide to do a second year of LVC, many of whom stay at their placmeent organization. About one out of every five volunteers continue on as salaried employees at their placements. Some volunteers seek out positions at similar social justice-minded organizations. Some take positions in the private sector or government and gain new perspectives on complex issues. Last, several LVCers go on to graduate school to pursue careers of service (social work, education, law, medicine, ministry).
In general, volunteers gain valuable work and life experience that is well respected and helpful in whatever they choose to do next.
Do you accept couples into LVC?
Yes, LVC accepts married couples and couples in committed relationships. Please submit a completed application for each individual with a cover letter explaining your relationship status and desired LVC situation. Each applicant is accepted or denied based on their own merits. Once accepted, LVC will match each person with the organization that fits them best with the intention of matching couples in the same region, city, or house if that is the desired situation.
Can people do LVC with dependent children?
Due to the amount of time and energy that it takes to build intentional community, applicants with dependent children are strongly encouraged to defer their application until they no longer have dependent children.