Frequently Asked Questions

Good Shepherd Volunteers
Good Shepherd Volunteers

When does the year start?
Who is the typical volunteer?
How many volunteers do the GSV have?
Are the volunteers all Catholic?
Can the volunteers go home at Christmas?
Can friends and family come visit?
Where do the volunteers live?
What kind of work is available to the GSV?
Are there any international placements?
Is it hard to live on the stipend?
How does the application process work?
Is there an application deadline?
What is a typical community night like?
Do the volunteers have any support in starting these community nights?
Can loans get deferred?
Do the volunteers have medical coverage?
What type of experience to someone need to be a volunteer?
Do volunteers have to be fluent in Spanish?


When does the year start?
The year starts in late August with an initial week-long orientation week. It ends with a reorientation retreat in Mid August of the following year.
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Who is the typical volunteer?
While the volunteers are very diverse in many ways, they are often around 22-25 and have either just graduated from college or graduate school or had graduated in the past couple of years. We have had people volunteer in the past who were taking a break from school to volunteer for a year, or were working and decided that they really wanted to try something else with their lives. Within this population, however, we have had much diversity in ethnicity, religion, beliefs, and reasons for volunteering.
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How many volunteers do the GSV have?
We have placements for about 20. In the past few years, we have had between 12-14 volunteers.
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Are the volunteers all Catholic?
No. This organization was started by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic order of Sisters, about eight years ago. The organization however is very open to people of any Christian denomination who are looking for a faith element within a volunteer experience. While the retreats are based out of a Catholic tradition, they are very open and welcoming to people of all denominations. Each year, there are more and more non-Catholics seeking service with the GSV.
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Can the volunteers go home at Christmas?
Most volunteers in the past have gone home at Christmas. We do encourage the volunteers to live on the stipend provided as much as possible, and some volunteers start putting money aside right away for Christmas, while others may have outside sources for that money. If a volunteer does decide to stay in a city for the Holidays, the number of invitations to celebrate Christmas is never lacking.
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Can friends and family come visit?
Volunteers can have guests. We do ask however that volunteers keep those visits to weekends and shorter trips. This is because having a lot of guests, for extended periods of time can really be disruptive to community life. This is based on events that have happened in the past with volunteers. It becomes difficult not only for the community, but for the individuals with the guests as well. They can feel very torn when people come visit for long periods of time.
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Where do the volunteers live?
This really depends on the city that the volunteers are in. The volunteers live in community in an apartment or house for the most part. In some cities, the GSV may share community with volunteers of another similar organization. We do this to extend communities; this model has worked very well in the past.
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What kind of work is available to the GSV?
The GSV work in many different capacities in many different places. For the most part, the GSV work in direct service with women, children, moms and kids, adolescents, and families. See Sites by Job Type and Service Sites for the specifics.
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Are there any international placements?
We do have two placements in Paraguay. The volunteers here live with the Sisters in Paraguay and work with the women and children. See International Opportunities for more specifics.
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Is it hard to live on the stipend?
It is an experience to live on the stipend. Living on the stipend is definitely possible—it brings up decisions about making choices of what has most importance in our lives.
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How does the application process work?
There is a paper application, as well as one here online. The potential volunteer fills it out and sends it to us. Once we receive all the parts of an application (app form, self-reference, five references, transcripts and medical form), our Admissions Board reviews the application. We then have a phone or when possible, face-to-face interview with the potential GSV. If at that point it feels like a good match for the program and possible volunteer, we will then discuss appropriate sites. We really try to honor what the volunteers’ interests are, and so that person is very involved in this discussion. Once a site is decided upon, the volunteers’ materials are passed along to that site’s supervisor, and a job description is sent to the volunteer. The site supervisor will then conduct a second interview. This is a great opportunity for the potential volunteer to ask questions specifically about the job and an opportunity to for the site supervisor to see if the person is appropriate for the position. We also can put the potential volunteer in contact with the current volunteer at the site, to get an idea of what it’s like to volunteer in that city at that place. Then, if both the volunteer and site supervisor seem happy with the match, we offer the volunteer the position.
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Is there an application deadline?
No. But many people send applications in starting in January. It is better to get applications in early, because the earlier it is in, the more choice in available placements there are. CLICK HERE to download and print the GSV application.
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What is a typical community night like?
There is no one typical community night. However, it does consist of the people in the house getting together and spending time together for an evening, once a week. Communities may decide to have dinner together, and then do an activity of some sort. The activities can really range, between just hanging out to having a spiritual discussion to playing a game to praying together. It is really up to the community to decide how they would like to spend community night. Most groups end up doing a combination of the above, throughout the year. Each member is responsible to be actively engaging in building the life of the community.
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Do the volunteers have any support in starting these community nights?
Each community has support people. These people are typically GS sisters or former volunteers. They have made a commitment to spend community nights with the volunteers and really be there as a support. Their role is basically to really be there for the community when the community might need them.
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Can loans get deferred?
Yes. The GSV program is part of AmeriCorps, which enables us to have your loans deferred for the year(they call it a forbearance). When your year is up, the interest that accrued on your loan will be paid by AmeriCorps as well. In addition, each volunteer receives a money voucher for $4725 at the end that can be used for past loans or future schooling, provided they finish the required 1700 hours of service.
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Do the volunteers have medical coverage?
Yes, each volunteer has coverage through the organization with which they work.
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What type of experience to someone need to be a volunteer?
Having some volunteer experience helps a lot. It gives a potential volunteer an idea of what their interests may or may not be. Most importantly, however, volunteers need the desire to work in direct human services and live in a faith-based community.
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Do Volunteers have to be fluent in Spanish?
No. Good Shepherd Volunteers ask that international volunteers have a strong base in grammar and writing skills. We realize that your verbal skills will improve with time in each host country.
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