Alumna Helps Homeless, Gives Back with Jesuit Volunteer Corps
October 11, 2011 – After a brief stint with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) this past winter, Carolyn Arnold (C’11) knew exactly what she wanted to do after graduation.
The Wisconsin native has returned to the Corps to work full-time for the next 10 months. The faith-based nonprofit organization places volunteers in communities needing educational, legal and health services in the U.S. and abroad.
Arnold is a program assistant at St. Joseph Center’s Bread and Roses Café for homeless people in West Los Angeles, where she’s training and managing volunteers.
Meals and Ambiance
“[The café] is essentially like a soup kitchen,” says Arnold, a psychology major and theology minor at Georgetown. “But in place of a soup line, guests are welcome to a free meal in the ambiance of a restaurant.”
Arnold lives with other Jesuit Volunteers in a small house provided by the nonprofit four blocks from the café.
When considering various organizations to work or volunteer with after graduation, Arnold says she was struck by how the JVC aligned with her own perspective.
“Their core values really lined up with the core values I gained from my Georgetown experience –spirituality, social justice, simple living and community,” Arnold says.
Arnold was also interested in the Baltimore-based organization because of its commitment to placing its volunteers in programs that address issues they most care about. For her, that meant an opportunity to work on alleviating the effects of homelessness.
Volunteering was an integral part of Arnold’s Georgetown experience. Every year as an undergraduate, she built houses with Habitat for Humanity – often as a project leader – through the Alternative Spring Break program. And for three years, she volunteered at Georgetown University Hospital, working with in-patient children.
She was also volunteered frequently through Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service. And she joined a group called Dance D.C., where she taught ballet, tap and step dance to underprivileged children in Southeast D.C.
Habits of Heart
Volunteering during her years at Georgetown gave Arnold what she calls “good habits of heart and an orientation toward the world.”
She says that orientation helped her realized that community involvement is bigger than helping people on an individual scale – and that her actions can positively impact society as a whole.
“When I was able to make that connection, that’s when [volunteering] took on a greater meaning for me,” Arnold recalls.
She says she expects the lessons learned from this experience will remain with her long after her stint as a Jesuit Volunteer is over.
“Part of what [past Jesuit Volunteers] say is that you’re ‘ruined for life,’” Arnold jokes. “It’s always something you’ll always carry with you.”