Bill and Mary Frances Jaster formed Colorado Vincentian Volunteers (CVV) in 1994 after serving 20-plus years as youth ministers, including initiating and implementing the SPLUNGE youth urban immersion program, and working with agencies that serve those who are poor. During this time, two growing needs had been made very clear:
• Young adults, especially those in the 22-30 age range, were looking for concrete ways of serving those who are poor and reflecting on these experiences in terms of both faith and life choices.
• Local, nonprofit agencies that serve the marginalized were also having trouble finding and keeping qualified and affordable staff.
After consultation with Denver-area nonprofits and others, CVV was formed to respond to these needs by developing a program that offers:
• Structured, faith-centered opportunities that help young adults be open to and serve those who are poor.
• Reduced-cost staffing that helps local nonprofit agencies in their mission to those who are poor.
Each year, since 1994, CVV has recruited 12-20 young adults, from throughout the country, primarily recent college graduates, to take part in the program. They agree to spend a volunteer year in Denver, living in community, serving those who are poor in full-time service through local nonprofit agencies, and integrating their service experiences through a yearlong spiritual formation program which includes daily prayer, retreats, mentoring and regular theological reflection times. In 2010, CVV grew to include 2 communities of volunteers in service to those who are most in need.
2016 saw the completion of 21 groups of Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, and over 65 local community organizations have been provided more than 593,600 hours of volunteer service through CVV. While providing high-quality staffing to participating agencies, the CVV volunteers have allowed those agencies to save over $5,342,000.00 in salary and benefit costs. This year’s CVV volunteers will provide a total of over 35,000 hours, serving Denver’s most vulnerable people through 20 community sites.