Dear JVC Northwest Community:
Amidst these unprecedented times, we want to update you on the reasoning and steps we are taking as an organization in the face of the global pandemic the world is now experiencing. With nearly 250 Jesuit Volunteers (JV)/AmeriCorps members and Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps members serving throughout the Pacific Northwest, our staff team has been meeting often and closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and the recommendations and guidance of public health experts. As we understand it, the movement toward strict social distancing aims to reduce the likelihood that our local healthcare facilities are not overwhelmed with needs of critical care, thereby avoiding as many unnecessary deaths as possible.
In our context, while many of our JV/AmeriCorps members can reasonably anticipate mild symptoms and an eventual recovery if they contract the virus, the larger concern is how our volunteers may contribute to spreading the virus to those at their service sites, their own living communities, and the populations of their community mates’ service placements, whose health profiles may put them at higher risk for complications and critical care needs. In short, we have responsibilities that include both the health of JV/AmeriCorps members as well as the public health within our locales.
Last Friday (March 13, 2020), we made the decision to recommend that Oregon and Washington JV/AmeriCorps members stay home from service and our staff started working remotely this week. Since then, many other service sites in Alaska, Montana, and Idaho are now closing for the foreseeable future. Yesterday, we recommended that all volunteers, in all five states, stay home from service through at least March 27, 2020. We are unsure of when we will advise volunteers to return to service sites and we plan to reevaluate this recommendation before March 27. Ideally, we could have engaged JVs and our partner agencies in a collaborative decision-making process, but in the interest of public health, we felt obligated to make the decision quickly and unilaterally.
This decision was not made lightly and the implications are significant, so we would like to highlight a few ways you might consider helping us in the near future.
Support Our Volunteers
Unfortunately, the ‘19-20 Jesuit Volunteer (JV) experience has been significantly altered with these world events. We had to postpone/re-imagine our second retreat for members who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) due to occur in early April. While the BIPOC retreat won’t happened as originally planned, we are devising alternative ways to support them. Additionally, we anticipate our spring regional retreats happening differently than originally planned. If you think there could be a way you could contribute remotely in this or other ways, please complete
this short form to indicate your interest and availability
Interrupt Harmful Narratives
The racialization of COVID-19 is having a very real effect on communities of color across the world. At JVC Northwest, our core values and mission invite us step back from fear, and to reflect on how language around the virus parallels and foments acts of racism, xenophobia, and ageism. As we encounter deep-rooted hurtful narratives, we are called to interrupt and change those narratives. Please join us in that effort to shape public discourse in our small parts of the world regarding the global pandemic.
During this time of uncertainty, our priority is the safety and well-being of our volunteers and the public health of the locales where they serve. Our response to the virus and resulting program changes will bring unanticipated expenses and potentially impact revenue. While we don’t yet know what the financial impact is going to be, we do know that your support is essential to the welfare of our community. If you are able to help during this time, please consider a gift to JVC Northwest to help us address changing circumstances now and in the coming months. You can make a donation by following this link:
If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to me at
. Lastly, please join us in prayer for all of the healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic, for those suffering the effects of the disease, and for all those whose lives are disrupted right now. I will be praying for you and your loved ones.
Take good care,
Executive Director, JVC Northwest