In the spirit of St. Vincent DePaul, the mission of the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers (CVV) is to invite young adults into a process of transformation through companionship with those who are poor and marginalized. This mission is accomplished by four components:
1. Direct service and advocacy with those who are poor
2. Intentional community life
3. Discussion and Reflection on issues of social justice, the preferential option for the poor and theological reflection on the volunteer's work experience.
4. Spirituality and Prayer
Colorado Vincentian Volunteers (CVV) is embarking on its 26th year as an organization. Our mission is to invite young adults into a process of transformation through companionship with those who are poor and marginalized in the spirit of St. Vincent DePaul. CVV was envisioned and established in 1994 by Denver natives and longtime youth ministers, Bill and Mary Frances Jaster. In consultation with others from the community, they saw the need for structured opportunities that would enable young adults to concretely serve those living in poverty and to reflect on those experiences in light of their faith and personal development. Directors of nonprofit agencies serving the most needy of the local community suggested a contract arrangement with CVV wherein the volunteers would be offered a full-time place of service, training and supervision, and CVV would provide low-cost and qualified staffing for those nonprofit agencies.
In 2010, the Board of Directors and Staff decided on an expansion of service by increasing from 13 to 20 volunteers based on a call from the many non-profits and agencies that CVV was serving. CVV celebrated its 25th program year with several special events in September, 2019.
Since 1994, more than 370 young people from 40 states and three foreign countries, most of them recent college graduates, have seen their lives transformed through their work as Colorado Vincentian Volunteers helping people experiencing homelessness, the medically indigent, adults and children with intellectual disabilities, refugees and homeless youth - to name a few.
The work of these volunteers adds up to about 37,000 hours a year helping Denver-area groups. Multiply that amazing number by 25 years and the total is more than 13 million hours, which translates into more than $6 million saved in salaries and other expenses.
Throughout this past year, a transition committee of the Board facilitated a process to prepare for the retirement of our founding directors in June 2020, including hiring a new director, who began onboarding in May 2020.
In response to hearing and witnessing hurts, neglect and injustices that have occurred within our CVV community, in June 2020, the Board of Directors and staff discerned to dedicate their resources for the next year to fully reassessing our program and transforming ourselves in light of issues of racial justice. Only such a total commitment will enable us to renew CVV to better realize our mission of inviting young adults into a process of true, radical compansionship with those in our society who are margianlized and living in poverty.
"I am realizing more and more how impactful my year of CVV was. Thank you, thank you a million times over. CVV changed my life in countless ways….CVV taught me how to think critically about what's happening in our world…I really miss the focus on simplicity and serving, on intentionally seeking Christ in others…I learned how to live in intentional community. I miss it terribly. It was not always easy, but it was always rewarding…CVV instilled in me a desire to be with those who are oppressed, abandoned, suffering, and I hope I can do something good as a social worker!... I want to continue meeting people where they're at and showing compassion. Maybe I can't always solve their problems but walking the journey with them might lessen a burden. Our trip to the border and CAD days, our R&D activities, along with my service at Urban Peak convinced me of this." Jenne, CVV '14-'15
"I just wanted to tell you how thankful I am for the experience you allowed me last year. There really isn't a day that passes without me thinking about the wonderful, and God-given experiences of community, Stout Street, Men's night, Monday festivities (reflections, Mass & dinner), Benedict park softball games, etc. While the past six months have been so life-giving, I find myself yearning for the sense of peace I felt as a part of CVV. Nothing has really compared to the feeling of coming home after a work day to eight community members who want to laugh, cry, pray, and cook with you. Nothing has really compared to the sense of the unknown I was able to experience every day while opening the doors of the clinic to 40 cold, hungry strangers, forcing me to completely release myself to God. It's funny to me actually, how many lessons I've learned from CVV right here in Omaha. In the rat race that's been med school, much of those lessons have really helped me to sift through what's important and for "the greater good" rather than what's meaningless, self-serving, and only perpetuating anxiety. I read a quote recently from Brendan Busse, SJ, that I think explains what I'm taking away from CVV right now in my life: When I'm free enough to give everything away, to let go of the fear of scarcity, when I'm free enough to want for nothing, then, as the psalmist says, God will be my shepherd and there will be nothing I shall want. Moreover, when we all want for nothing there will be no one left wanting. When we accept the surplus instead of wasting it then we'll have discovered the beautiful truth of life in abundance. I think my time in Denver was the closest I've come to accepting the surplus; and I truly love and thank you for that." Joel, CVV '12-'13
"This community of people is food for me on my life journey. I learned a new way to walk, talk and show my love. The skills I learned and continue to learn from this group center on discovering who I am and how I want to live my life." Mike, CVV '11-'12
"CVV changed my life in ways I can't describe. Every year removed, I still see glimpses of what I experienced and learned (from you). I would never have pursued my MSW if it wasn't for CVV." Joelle, CVV '10-'11