Notre Dame Mission Volunteers-AmeriCorps: Co-Workers in Education
By Adrienne Andrews, NDMV Executive Director, Jackie Simon, NDMV
Associate Director and Sister Teresa Anyabuike, SNDdeN
Notre Dame Mission Volunteers (NDMV) is celebrating 27 years as a national ministry of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), engaging individuals of all backgrounds. In the SNDdeN tradition, the Volunteers strengthen education in “the most abandoned places” and “teach people what they need to know for life.” NDMV works closely with Sisters worldwide to expand outreach and invite others into transformative service. To enable more growth, NDMV partners with AmeriCorps, a federal agency which encourages service and volunteerism across the USA.
Mission Volunteers appreciate the keynote talks and sessions at the Training Conference
By 2018, our network included over 5,000 NDMV-AmeriCorps alums and 800,000 families impacted by our NDMV-AmeriCorps members. At present, NDMV has 450 AmeriCorps Volunteers ministering full-time in teams in 25 USA cities: in the east, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Apopka; on the west, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle; in smaller cities, like Boulder, Colorado, Cincinnati and Northeast Ohio, and Thoreau, New Mexico. NDMV-AmeriCorps members serve in schools, community centers, after-school programs, and family education programs, and support education initiatives through small group and one-on-one instruction. They act as classroom assistants, GED citizenship instructors, and environmental education coordinators, ranging from under-resourced urban neighborhoods to migrant farmworker groups. This commitment of NDMV ensures access to education for each person to reach a full God-given potential.
NDMV service in the USA supports multiple SNDdeN initiatives overseas. Boulangerie Notre Dame, a community-led bakery in Haiti, is the most recent project. The bakery provides jobs, as well as access to education, in NDMV tradition. Children of bakery workers receive scholarships to attend school; the bakery workers learn new skills, from English to business practices.
Executive Committee: Emily Bernstein (Program Assistant), Josephine Nannozi (Finance Manager), Jackie Simon (Associate Director), Adrienne Andrews (Executive Director), and Vincent Lui (Finance Assistant). All NDMV photos in this edition by John Rasmussen, former Mission Volunteer
Midyear Conference: “Stones of Hope Ripples of Change”
In February 2019, 280 NDMV-AmeriCorps members joined staff, presenters, and 25 SNDdeN in Baltimore, MD for the Midyear Training Conference. Volunteers shared with SNDdeN their experiences, common values, and similar challenges. They learned about the SNDdeN Mission in the USA and the rich experiences of the Sisters.
They attended workshops designed to provide them with new skills to improve their ability to serve their communities, and enjoyed the chance to network with people from other cities. Members had the opportunity to hear from inspiring keynote presenters: Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ, author of “Dead Man Walking,” shared her unique experiences with persons on death row and in our marginalized society. Sr. Helen awakened the consciousness of participants in citing the importance of the dignity and sacredness of each person, the need to speak for the voiceless in this nation, and to challenge the wrongs in our society in advocating for peace and justice.
Ronald Smith, Nonviolence Trainer, used his dynamic life experiences from a professional basketball player to a prison inmate, and now to social justice and community service. He challenged Mission Volunteers to believe in themselves and to determine their own future. He encouraged them to be driven by love to make a positive impact for change. Love-driven service speaks life into those we meet every day. We do so much better together.
One Volunteer remarked: “We learn so much! I heard from Sr. Helen Prejean, attended a workshop on the Holocaust by someone who lived through it, learned Tai Chi, and talked about a Brazilian teacher’s [Paulo Freire] pedagogy. Where else can that happen?”
The NDMV service year offers rare opportunities for individuals to serve communities and gain professional experience. Mission Volunteers enter the program because they believe that education has the power to transform communities; however, they leave the service year transformed themselves, with a new commitment to justice. They change lives in making known God’s goodness through action.