How to volunteer

Brethren Volunteer Service works to place volunteers in a project where their skills are used and the need is greatest. We expect your service to contribute to the goals of BVS. We see BVS as sharing God’s love through acts of service.

The art of serving is a process of both giving and receiving. We need to be able to freely give of ourselves and freely receive what others can offer and teach us. It is our hope that this art will move beyond a one- to two-year program and will become a lifestyle that continues after BVS.

Brethren Volunteer Service offers several avenues of support for volunteers

    • An orientation training experience spent with fellow volunteers. This time is spent focusing on the mindset of a volunteer. Read more about orientation and see upcoming dates here.
    • Continued support by BVS staff. Volunteers in the field can rely on the BVS team to support their work.
    • Special Older Adult service options.
    • Health insurance. Brethren Volunteer Service, through a partnership with the Catholic Volunteer Network, offers health insurance to all volunteers free of charge. Read more about insurance here.

There are several steps to a successful volunteer term

  • Apply.Submit your application online here. Submitting an application lets us know of your serious interest in BVS, but it is not a formal commitment to volunteer.
  • Sign the covenant. Once an applicant has been accepted into BVS, the next step is to sign the volunteer covenant. The covenant indicates formal commitment to volunteer and abide by BVS’ guidelines. This document details the expected attitude and behavior of volunteers while serving under Brethren Volunteer Service. Read the covenant here.
  • Volunteer Fees – These fees are used to support transportation to assignments and other administrative costs.

    1. Those serving in an international assignment will be charged $1,000 ($750 for Church of the Brethren members).
    2. Those serving in a domestic assignment will be charged $500 ($250 for Church of the Brethren members).
    3. Volunteers coming to the U.S. through the EIRENE program in Germany will be covered by the EIRENE program. Any non-EIRENE volunteer coming from outside the U.S. will be charged the $500 fee to serve in the US.
    4. BVSers accepted at international assignments in countries requiring a visa or pre-clearance process will need to provide the funds for the initial set of fees. Ask staff for details, as fees vary by region. Subsequent visa fees after the BVSer has been on project will be covered by BVS, the project, or other sources.
  • Attend Orientation. Applicants must choose an orientation to attend. View a list of upcoming orientations, and read more about what takes place here.
  • Select a project. Unlike other programs, most volunteers in BVS will not know where they will serve until they attend orientation. (There is an exception for volunteers serving abroad. These volunteers will be in conversation with BVS staff before orientation, and will generally be pre-assigned upon arrival). The placement process involves your skills, experience, and preferences, the needs of the projects, and our staff’s communication with both parties. Read more details about the project placement process here.
    • International placements. There are many projects available in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Read more about volunteering overseas (see question “I want to serve outside the United States”).
  • Work hard. Most volunteers will serve for a year. BVS Staff will support volunteers, and are always available to help those that are struggling. All first-year volunteers will attend a retreat after six months, at which they can reconnect with members of their orientation unit, as well as check in with staff about how their service term is progressing.
  • Return home changed. Most volunteers will find that it is a difficult adjustment to return to the “regular world” after volunteering. Many experience profound changes in their identity after serving. Many will choose to volunteer again, either at the same project or somewhere new. For those that re-enter their old lives, BVS asks that they continue to advocate for the beliefs that they lived out by serving, with the same conviction. Alumni are a valued resource, and may be asked to help promote BVS by speaking to their communities.