“We’ve been talking about something like this, dreaming about something like this and praying about something like this for about nine years now,” said Christina Repoley ’02 as she described the Quaker Voluntary Service program.
The program, started by Repoley, will launch its first pilot experience in Atlanta, Ga. this August. The mission of the program is to engage young adults who are interested in “intentional Quaker community, Friends worship and process, and questions of faith and service.”
Six post-graduate students from the ages of 21 to 35 will live in a house for 11 months from August through June. Being Quaker is not a requirement, but the “volunteers who are not Quaker should have a genuine interest in exploring and learning about the Quaker way.”
The inspiration for the idea came to Repoley after she gaduated. While at Guilford, she majored in religious studies and was an active member of the Quaker Leadership Scholars Program.
After graduating, she was determined to continue practicing her Quaker values of social justice and service. Specifically, she wanted to do Quaker justice work and to bridge her Quaker faith with her core values. She was curious to learn what it would mean to do this type of work in the world of non-profits. However, when she was unable to find the community she was searching for, she created her own program.
Junior Paula Skandis responded to the idea positively.
“I’ve never been a part of intentional service work before, and I think it would be a good experience,” said Skandis. “It would be nice to learn more about Quakerism and have the opportunity to reflect more on my own spiritual path and understanding.”
The students will each have their own full-time internship at a variety of different work sites. The service sites range anywhere from local schools to small non-profits. All of the internships will focus on social issues such as education and immigration.
The participants will also have a mentor along the way helping guide their experience. Additionally, the interns will receive “housing, a work stipend, health insurance, training and spiritual support.”
The application for the program consists of several different short answer questions, involving explaining one’s experience with community, how they define service, their experience with personal transformation and the role of religious faith in their life, among others.
“Being open to sharing about your religious experience, whatever it is, is really the most important thing … that’s going to be a big part of the program,” said Repoley.
The QVS program is also going to be working with the Atlanta Friends Meeting, which is an “unprogrammed meeting.”
The Atlanta Friends Meeting is also the largest of these types of meetings and has the most resources to offer the QVS students.
“QVS as a larger organization is committed to engaging across the Quaker spectrum,” said Repoley.
In 2009, Repoley organized a consultation group based around faith, service, and Quakers. Assistant Director of Friends Center and Director of QLSP Deborah Shaw served on this original committee and expressed her excitement.
“It will be a wonderful opportunity for six young adults to engage in service and social justice work from the grounding of a faith community,” said Shaw. “To be able to engage in a full-time position which offers direct service to marginalized persons with the spiritual support of a local Friends meeting, with housing and health insurance provided, is a tremendous opportunity.”
If you are interested in applying to the program, go to http://www.quakervoluntaryservice.org/apply/.