Quaker Voluntary Service is a year long service program for Young Adults interested in Quaker spirituality and social change. Apply here!
QVS has houses in Philadelphia, Portland, Atlanta, and Boston.
Volunteer applications are due by March 15.
QuakerSpeak is a Project of Friends Journal.
Filmed and Edited by Jon Watts.
Music in this episode:
So when I heard about QVS, it was the perfect way to incorporate these ideas that I’ve been thinking about: What is my calling? What kind of service do I see myself doing? Figuring out what it means to be in community with people, and so those are the things that excited me about the program initially.
Carol Anne Ferlauto
I had been doing work for a while that was not fulfilling for me at all. I didn’t feel like the work that I was doing was in line with what my beliefs are.
What does that look like, lived? How do you live into these values that you’re claiming and testifying to believe? And that, for me, is what the dream and the challenge of this year is.
Quaker Voluntary Service:
Transforming Service, Living Faith
I was interested in QVS primarily because I have lived in community in different places in my life and that’s been some of the most meaningful experiences and so I was really interested in having the coming year involve community in some form. Finding QVS, and particularly the Quaker nature of QVS and the grounding, which is something that I’ve been wanting to explore more and connect back to, so the fact that it was in community and it was Quaker based and then also involved this year of getting to work in a different social service organization and learn about a different social issue – felt really exciting.
Carol Anne Ferlauto
I really loved the opportunity to be able to serve doing work that was meaningful for me, in line with my Quaker values and the opportunity to live in intentional community with other volunteers.
Before I said, “yes” to this year in Quaker Voluntary Service, I had a very very clear leading. This is where you’re supposed to be.
I decided to do QVS because I wanted to do a year of service and I had already attended Atlanta Friends Meeting for about six months prior to doing this program
At the end of College I was finding it very difficult to imagine myself being a person in the world, and I felt and continue to feel that QVS is a program that allows me to be myself, doesn’t expect me to posture anything, and doesn’t ask me to be doing things that I don’t feel like have much integrity.
QVS stood out because they knew what their mission was. They knew what they were headed towards. It hadn’t outgrown its mission. It was small enough that it still had this sense of place that it was going, and I think it still has that.
The Experience of Doing Service
So what’s meaningful to me about doing the work is that I get to work directly with all different kinds of people and I get to hear their stories and hear where they’re coming from and I get to help use those stories to get them citizenship or get them some sort of status that they’re seeking.
It’s definitely a way to get to really know how Philadelphia is for the people who are probably least served by the city.
And it was an inclusive school so we had about 30% kids with special needs, and I was just providing additional capacity as a full time teacher.
I work in grantmaking. I will be helping to process the grants once that cycle of the year starts back up again. I help with managing the social media, I help out with writing the newsletter. I do a wide array of different activities having to do with organizing events.
Who is QVS For?
I guess I would recommend QVS to someone who was up for and interested in a really immersive experience and was interested in community in small and big ways. Someone who both wants to engage community themselves in terms of how they’re living and where they’re living and also is interested in larger communities and learning more about and becoming a part of larger communities.
I would recommend QVS to anyone who is curious about how nonprofits work and doesn’t have enough experience really to get a job that’s doing exciting work with nonprofits flat out.
I would recommend QVS to anybody who is interested in social action or social change, to anybody who really wants to explore their spirituality.
Carol Anne Ferlauto
I would recommend this to anybody who is looking to have an experience doing service work, anyone who is not quite sure of what direction they would like to take their life or career in and need some time to discern what it is that they would like to do with their life. I think its a great opportunity to explore what options are available while serving in a meaningful way.
If you’re looking to do Quaker Voluntary Service, I’d say you’re looking for a really good experience doing good work in the world, serving people who need to be served. But its not going to be an easy year. It wasn’t for me. Expect it to be hard, but expect it to be extremely rewarding at the same time.
What Makes QVS Unique?
QVS is an organization that feels like it is very much on a mission and it’s opposing a lot of the powers-that-be in this world right now, which is one of the reasons that it most appealed to me, is that it seems to be trying to operate outside of a lot of the systems of empire that I see in the world, so that’s something that I think is really great.
I’m gonna exist in community when it is beautiful and when it’s HARD. Community is acknowledging that other people have the right to speak into my life.
Carol Anne Ferlauto
I find that it can be difficult to find work that I feel is truly doing that because a lot of times the work that we end up getting paid for is serving the interests of a corporation or something like that and it’s very meaningful for me to be able to do work that I feel is actually helping people rather than just profit driven. I knew what was out there and I was not happy with the routine in life that I had become involved with, so I was very welcoming to the opportunity to do something different. I feel like my life just restarted.
I met so many wonderful folks and that was great, but I also had actual, good, real experiences with God throughout the course of the year, and I’m not going to just leave that behind. I want to seek that out more and see what happens, so we’ll see what happens.
An Unforgettable Year
I am so glad that I did QVS. I think it was one of the best experiences that I’ve had in terms of learning about myself as a person and what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be.
Carol Anne Ferlauto
I feel like my life just restarted and I gave myself a chance to do something that was different, very different than what I was doing before and I feel like in a way I set myself free by giving myself the opportunity to explore alternative options of what there is out there and options for work and purpose that are not necessarily the most traditional but are very much so rewarding.
I think that this year has called me to start thinking about those things and what faith in the world looks like. What Quakers, I think, have been doing. That’s our tradition, of pushing our faith into places that God seems really really far from, or into systems that just seem so overwhelmingly unjust, and trusting that out of an ocean of darkness, there is an ocean of Light. I think that risk is so worth it. It’s been an unforgettable year.
5 thoughts on “Transforming Service, Living Faith: Quaker Voluntary Service”
Note there’s an error in the captions on the video– two different speakers are tagged as “AJ Mendoza”.
Thanks for the notice, Kate! The error has been corrected. -Jon
Thanks for all your great work on this video, Jon!
You’re welcome! It was a pleasure to work with you this year and a blessing to be able to support the good work that QVS is doing.
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