Frequently Asked Questions
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What is WVC?
The Westmoreland Volunteer Corps (WVC) is a one-year domestic volunteer service program. It offers young adults, typically recent college graduates, opportunities to work in direct social service through internships with Washington area service agencies. 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. These agencies provide services such as employment counseling for incarcerated individuals, case workers for at-risk youth, maternal/child health care and other health programs, social and legal services and shelters for the homeless, and refugee support. Advocacy opportunities include community organizing in low-income communities and social justice issue organizing. 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.
Do Volunteers have to be American 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?
Volunteer applications for the upcoming year can be downloaded from WVC's website or obtained through the WVC recruitment chair. Applications are evaluated on a rolling basis, beginning in February. In order to have the widest variety of agencies available, it is best to apply early. Applications are received and reviewed by the WVC board.
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. During visits, meetings are scheduled with potential agencies, WVC board members, current Volunteers, Westmoreland Church's minister, and WVC's community counselor.
Final acceptance and agency placement follows each visit, generally within 2 weeks.
How long is the WVC commitment? When does it start?
WVC requires a one-year commitment. All Volunteers arrive the Friday of Labor Day weekend to move into the Volunteer House, get to know one another and their community counselor, and participate in orientation activities. Work begins the day after Labor Day. A welcoming service at Westmoreland Church is held in mid-September. Volunteers are committed to WVC and their placements until the middle of the following August.
Can student loans be deferred?
Federally guaranteed student loans typically can be deferred for the Westmoreland Volunteer Corps. Check with your university and/or lending institution to confirm eligibility and to obtain the appropriate forms.
What are the financial arrangements? Do volunteers get paid?
Agencies where Volunteers work provide a 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 or reimburse Westmoreland for it. Volunteers are reimbursed up to $250 for one out-of-town trip during the year. WVC provides funds for transportation to and from the three weekend retreats during the year. Volunteers find the living allowance adequate to cover their needs.
How did WVC start?
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.