Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The spirit of volunteerism involves sacrifice

Helping the poor is a bad way to become rich. Many who serve in jobs that provide services to the poor do not receive a high wage. In fact, the salary may be so low that you will experience the same hard ships as those you try to help.

We read of one such example today in a story from the Concord Monitor. Jennifer Pendarvis, a volunteer for AmeriCorps; works to help find opportunities for high school students. Writer Trent Spiner says that Pendarvis gets such a thrill out of helping the youth obtain success that she doesn't mind the low wages.

Pendarvis, 24, along with two others, spent the past year as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Franklin, working to help eradicate poverty. Her duty was to connect Franklin High School students with opportunities to earn credits outside of the classroom.

For her work, Pendarvis earned 10 percent more than the local poverty line, about $800 a month, she said.

"They really want you to live in poverty so you can see how the people who you are serving live," she said. "They'll tell you it isn't a salary; it's a living stipend to continue to support your volunteerism."

That meant making choices between going out to eat and

going grocery shopping, cable television or internet access, and walking versus driving to work.

"Going forward, I'm not going to be as worried about making ends meet, because I know I can survive on the bare minimum," she said. "It gives me a sense of 'Yeah, I can do this and I'm not scared of what can happen.' "

When her one-year contract in Franklin finishes Friday, she plans to drive to her next assignment, where she'll start another year as a VISTA volunteer at a literacy center in Greeley, Colo.

No comments: