(Sent to JVC Community on 3/16/2020)
Dear JVC Community:
Our prayers go out to those communities that are significantly impacted by the coronavirus and particularly to those families who have lost loved ones as a result of this pandemic. In particular, we hold in prayer those families and communities near and far who are most vulnerable to this virus.
JVC staff have been closely monitoring COVID-19 reports both domestically and internationally and have been communicating consistently with all of our JVs. The responses by countries, states, and cities vary and have been intensifying as the coronavirus spreads and communities determine their course of action in attempting to contain it.
After careful consideration, intentional thought, and caution, we determined the most prudent course of action is to institute the following steps:
-JVC has arranged for all international program volunteers to be brought home as soon as is reasonably possible. To prepare our international program JVs, they had initial calls with staff; received email communication; and over the weekend began working on arranging their departure plans. The exception to this is the two JV communities in Peru—Andahuaylillas, and Tacna—that we were unable to book flights for before the travel ban and 15-day quarantine period imposed in Peru went into effect. JVC will maintain close contact with these two communities and are fortunate to have strong support from the local Jesuits in those two communities.
-In addition, we made the decision to cancel all domestic program silent retreats that are scheduled for March-May. We communicated this to the domestic program volunteers last Friday. The program staff will be providing resources to the domestic program communities for alternative methods for hosting a silent retreat.
-We have been sharing information on basic preventative measures to minimize the risk of contracting the virus. This also includes protocols for social distancing, self-isolation, and quarantine in the event they come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
-We are monitoring other industry trends and areas of concern within international volunteer programs, like the PeaceCorps who have also made the difficult decision to bring home their volunteers.
-Our staff will begin working remotely beginning tomorrow. However, we are committed to providing uninterrupted support to our volunteers through the period of this disruption.
For the international program volunteers, we will be looking for ways to stay connected to them upon their return, virtual ways for them to process this experience with each other and to monitor the situation in their service countries in the hope of a return in the future.
Needless to say, the decision to bring home the international program volunteers was met with great disappointment. JVC felt the need to make this decision quickly and unilaterally without the type of consultation JVs and JVC normally would have preferred. Understandably, many of the volunteers are reluctant to leave their agencies and the people they serve. They are concerned about when and if they will be able to return to complete their service. Our intention and hope is that they will be able to return but these decisions will hinge on how the virus spreads or is contained in those locations.
We’ve asked domestic program volunteers to stay in close communication with their placement agencies for instructions regarding either workplace policies or work from home requirements.
If you would like to help support the domestic program or international program volunteers during this period, please click on this link here for concrete ways that you can sign up to help.
Please keep JVs in your thoughts and prayers. As international program volunteers they leave their country of service; process this abrupt departure; have concern for the communities they are leaving; hope for a return to those places they were serving. And Domestic program volunteers as they continue their service locally.
Our first concern is the safety and wellbeing of our JVs. Our response to the virus will bring unanticipated expenses and/or curtail expected revenue. We don’t know the financial impact at this stage but anticipate this will have an adverse financial impact on JVC. If you’re able to help us during this period, you can give by following this link: https://www.jesuitvolunteers.org/support-jvc
Thank you and stay tuned for additional updates next month.
Support our unexpected costs to bring our volunteers home ASAP by making a gift today!