(Sent to JVC Community on 4/21/2021)
Dear Jesuit Volunteer Corps Community:
We recently were made aware of a news article about inappropriate conduct and sexual abuse committed in 2004 against an adult Jesuit International Volunteer who was then serving in Belize. The person allegedly committing this abuse was Ted Dziak, SJ, who years earlier served as director of Jesuit International Volunteers from 1984 to 1990.
JVC condemns the actions of abuse and harm that occur when people choose to exert power over others, and we stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of abuse.
Since the early years of JVC, volunteers in our program have served within organizations that support people who have experienced sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. These volunteers have historically shared that the psychological, physical and emotional toll that the clients they accompany face can last a lifetime, and the barriers to working through trauma such as this are vast and complex.
Therefore, we recognize that action on this issue requires instituting policies and practices, constant vigilance and learning, and maintaining a solid commitment to protecting persons from abuse, harassment, and harm. This commitment is integral to our mission at JVC. Our values dictate that together we must continue to build an intentional and conscientious community that prioritizes presence, healing, and spiritual development.
Our policies and practices have been developed to reflect our commitment to creating a safe space for staff and volunteers. We have furthered this commitment in the following ways:
-Staff and Volunteers now complete VIRTUS training as part of their employment and/or term of service.
-Our program agreement for our volunteers includes updated expectations and recognizes the boundaries for staff and volunteer interactions. Additionally, volunteers receive expectations and boundaries within their program agreement for their interactions with the vulnerable populations served by their partner agencies.
-JVC has made updates to our agency applications that now require our partner agencies to share their internal policies to better understand their level of commitment to creating a safe and welcoming space for their staff, volunteers and clients.
-JVC has created a Jesuit Volunteer hub that contains HR policies and procedures that all volunteers can access, which alleviates the barrier for searching for links, or documentation in their email archives. This resource hub also provides links to past presentations for additional clarity.
-JVC has contracted with a Volunteer Assistance Program in order to provide our volunteers with free counseling services.
-JVC has hired a full-time HR Manager to build out our HR function within the organization.
-JVC has engaged the services of Idaltu Counseling and Consulting to review all current policies and procedures—including those that address our zero-tolerance policy for incidences of sexual abuse or harassment--and make further recommendations to improve and continue our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion work.
JVC cannot provide medical or mental health support; however, if you or someone you know is seeking additional support at this time, https://metoomvmt.org/ has a series of resources available to the public.