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Change A Heart Franciscan Volunteer Program is a 12 month service experience that empowers young adults to live simply in community while serving a vulnerable population.
Since 1999. 49 participants have served the needs of more than 31,601 vulnerable individuals through collaboration with 25 social service agencies.
How does it work? Participants intentionally live "a year of service" through 4 core program values:
- Service - Participants are matched with a social agency in a full-time position that directly serves a vulnerable population in the areas of Education, Healthcare or Social Services. Participants are matched based on their education and interest as well as needs of the social service organization.
- Simplicity -Participants live on a small stipend in a low-income, urban neighborhood. This challenges participants to examine lifestyle decisions and how those decisions impact others. Spending a year centered on less money and consumption can free participants to appreciate the value found in simple pleasures, conversations and their own creativity.
- Community - Live in intentional community in the Franciscan spirit of mutuality sharing meals, group activities and prayer. Room and board is provided including rent, utilities, food, and transportation in a community house or apartment in an urban neighborhood.
- Spirituality - A Christian program with a Catholic foundation and Franciscan identity. This means we use the example of the life of St. Francis of Assisi as a way to invite participants to deepen their relationship with God, neighbor and self. Participants do this through personal reflection, group sharing and prayer, retreats and the opportunity for spiritual direction. While the majority of people may be people of faith, this is not a requirement for all.
80% of alumnae continue to work at nonprofit agencies, or in volunteer positions, serving vulnerable populations throughout their lifetime.Intentionally participating in a year of service can be life changing for both the participant and the individuals with whom they serve. In the words of Franciscan historian, Thomas of Celano, this experience can be "a pilgrimage of transformation" much like that of St. Francis of Assisi
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