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Finding a Sense of Purpose with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps

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When Charlie Shea was an undergraduate at Fordham, he worked part time as a driver for an Italian pastry business on Arthur Avenue, delivering baked goods to several of the company’s Bronx-based locations. 

Shea, who learned Spanish in elementary school, developed a bond with his Spanish-speaking coworkers. Many of them were men from Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.

“They all worked super hard. I was just working there for a summer job, but many of the guys were working to provide for their families,” said Shea, a 2017 Fordham College at Rose Hill graduate who will earn a Master of Science in marketing intelligence this year from the Gabelli School of Business. He said his personal experiences with the Bronx’s Latino community inspired his decision to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) after graduation.

For a year, Shea will serve as a family self-sufficiency case worker at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, where the population is more than 50 percent Latino. He’ll assist families and elderly clients with issues related to poverty, food insecurity, housing, and immigration.

“I wanted to do something where I could see the benefits of what I was doing,” said Shea, who chose not to pursue a “typical office job” after graduating. “I wanted something a little bit more tangible and a little bit more real.”

Shea is one of roughly 300 young adults in JVC’s global volunteering program at any given time, according to Mike Reddy, interim president of JVC.

“Jesuit Volunteers accompany poor and marginalized communities through service within agencies at the front lines of social justice,” said Reddy. “Their term of service in JVC not only benefits those communities, but it also gives our volunteers a sense of purpose, mission, and values for years to come.”

Annie David will serve with JVC for a year as an after-school coordinator and coach for Girls in the Game—a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on helping girls find their voice, confidence, and power through sports.

“It’s kind of like a safe place for girls in Chicago,” said David, who learned firsthand how sports can inspire and motivate when she joined Fordham’s women’s rugby team.

“I had never played before, but being supported by the team and learning that everyone is there to have fun and help each other, that led me to want to pass on what I’ve learned.”

David is graduating with a degree in communications from Fordham College at Rose Hill. Originally from Lynchburg, Virginia, she said that studying and living in a diverse, urban environment like New York helped her to become aware of the challenges faced by marginalized communities.

She thinks the year ahead will help her find her purpose.

As of May 2, eight other graduating seniors also plan to serve with the JVC next year: Brian Kriebel will serve at Catholic Parish Outreach in Raleigh, North Carolina; Stephanie Leo will work at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley in San Jose, California; Emily Lindo will serve with Civicorps in Oakland, California; Siobhan Loughran will serve at Promise Arizona, an immigrant- rights organization in Phoenix; Christopher Ly will serve at the Midtown Assistance Center in Atlanta; Christina Monaco will work at Preble Street, which addresses issues like homelessness, hunger, and poverty in Portland, Maine; Michelle Nista will work at Friends of the Poor in Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Kathleen Stanovick will work at Raphael House, which serves homeless and low-income families in San Francisco. Alumnus Greg Rigatti, who graduated in 2016, will serve at Community & Home Supports in Detroit.

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