FrancisCorps is a 50/50 experience. It’s 50% about the wonderful service you will do to serve the poor. But it’s also 50% about the experience of community that you will share with the other volunteers in your house. Saint Francis and Saint Clare both believed that it is necessary to have a solid experience of community where you share your day, your prayer, your life with one another. It’s here that you will grow and stretch. It’s this natural human “give-and-take” where you meet Christ. It’s this experience that gives you what it takes to serve others. It is through this balance that you not only change the lives of the people you serve but are also changed yourself.
The question is how do you live out this 50/50 experience? Your typical day beings with waking up in the morning, preparing yourself for the day and heading to your service site. Once there, your tasks and responsibilities will depend upon where you are called to serve. FrancisCorps volunteers serve at a number of agencies across the city of Syracuse. Each service sites is different and requires volunteers to serve in different ways. But regardless where that is, service with FrancisCorps emphasizes direct interaction with the people you will serve. A volunteer day is usually 8 hours with time for lunch with other staff or volunteers. As your service day draws to a close, you usually head home in the late afternoon and join the other members of your community.
When you arrive home, you’ll be greeted by your community in a variety of ways. Some may be preparing dinner in the kitchen, others relaxing in the living room or on the porch (weather permitting!). Still others, may be in their rooms taking time to decompress, checking emails, catching up with a friend or taking a quick nap. No matter what the activity once dinner is ready, you and your community will come together around the table and share the meal as well as the stories of the day. Intentional community is at the heart of the FrancisCorps experience and is something you will experience in a variety of ways on a daily basis, including sharing a meal 7 days a week.
After a delicious meal, everyone does a quick cleanup and then off to the prayer space for the daily prayer. Daily prayer is the foundation of your spiritual experience and along with Mass, faith sharing, retreats and a very special pilgrimage experience to Assisi, Italy you will deepen and integrate all you will do and see with your faith through a Franciscan lens. Once the final Amen is said, the night is up for whatever you and your community need to do. It might be a continuation of the stories from supper or the dance that was in the kitchen, maybe a book is picked for some reading or after a long day you hear your pillow calling your name.
This could be a typical day for one volunteer but there are many different schedules so it is bound to change. You might have to do breakfast as your meal together rather than dinner or you might have to pray in the morning rather than at night. At first it can be a little tedious to figure out but after routine sets in, the schedule clears up. Your life as a FrancisCorps volunteer has many blessings. It will also contain many challenges. But no matter the ups or downs or what your typical day looks like, the life you will live as a FrancisCorps volunteer will always include four key things: service, community, prayer and a Franciscan sense of fun!
The volunteer house is located in the Syracuse, NY neighborhood called the Northside. You’ll live in a cozy and fully furnished house consisting of 8 bedrooms (you’ll get your own room!), two bathrooms, a dining room, communal living space, a prayer space, a kitchen, basement with washer and dryer, and an upstairs porch. The house is located within an about 10-15 minute drive to all service sites and downtown. The house is also about a 5 minute drive to the Franciscan Church of the Assumption, the parish where you will be a member.
Syracuse has a population of about 145,000 people and at times it can seem a little rough around the edges as the presence of poverty is great but it offers many opportunities to the local community. The community is rich as it holds strong to its roots from the past as well as embracing the new, as Syracuse has become a major hub for refugee resettlement. Syracuse also has a “young adult” vibe as one of its main support systems is Syracuse University. From catching a SU basketball game on University Hill, a bite to eat in Armory Square or a concert at The Westcott Theater, these are just a few ways to explore the perks of Syracuse.
If you were to leave Syracuse, you might find yourself in the beautiful region of the Finger Lakes or taking in the fresh air of the Adirondack Mountains. A couple hours down the road you could find yourself drenched by the water of Niagara Falls or checking out the Gorges of Ithaca. Syracuse is also located centrally between Toronto, Montréal, Boston and New York City if a longer community excursion is desired.
Find out more about volunteer life by checking out our official volunteer blog!