Santa Clara University

Santa Clara Magazine

Stephanie Barr '02

Lead Area Director, JVC Northwest

I graduated from Santa Clara in 2002 with a degree in philosophy and a minor in women's studies. From there I joined JVC Northwest working at the Domestic Violence Resource Center (DVRC) in Hillsboro, Ore. As a women’s and children's advocate at DVRC, my job included co-facilitating support groups for women experiencing domestic violence and facilitating psycho-educational groups for children ages 4 to 12 witnessing or experiencing abuse at home. I absolutely loved my job and learned a lot about domestic violence, counseling, and the barriers families face in ending the cycle of violence.

I also loved my community of six. We greatly supported to each other throughout the year, and at the same time really challenged one another in living out the four values. We decided to apply together to do a second year in Alaska. When we were assigned to Bethel, four of the six of us committed to a second year.

While there, I worked at Bethel Community Services with disabled and mentally ill adults. My job was running the Learning Resource Center, a place for recreation and fun for adults with disabilities/mental illness. During the winter that meant a lot of arts and crafts, and during the summer it meant a great deal of salmon fishing, which was entirely new to me! As a volunteer in Bethel I also got to help staff a dog sled race called the Kuskokwim 300, learn some conversational Yup'ik, and experience Yup'ik culture. Two years later I moved to Portland and saw that JVC Northwest was looking for area directors. I thought it would be fun and challenging to be on the other side of the experience, and a good fit for my skills, so I applied. This is my third year on staff and I am currently the lead area director. During my first two years, I worked with a community in Portland, Yakima, and Omak. This year I work with one of our Seattle communities and the house of second year volunteers in Portland. In addition to being an area director, I also run our agency recruitment and selection process, our screening and application process for new volunteers, and oversee the planning of orientation.

My favorite things about working for JVC Northwest are the volunteers and the impact. I love spending time with the volunteers on area visits, listening to their efforts to live out the values, laughing with them, and volunteering at their agencies. Watching them grow and come to understand how they want to engage in issues of justice in their lives beyond JVC Northwest is really rewarding. I think JVC encourages people to think more broadly than "what do I want to do with my life" but ask "who do I want to be?" It's inspiring to work with people who are compassionate, intelligent, and committed, and I'm grateful for their hope and dedication in the face of the suffering they witness.

The other time I feel really inspired at work is during agency selection, when I get to see on a large scale the impact that volunteers make across the region. From Eastern Montana to Western Alaska our volunteers do everything from environmental work to being a part of L'Arche communities, to community organizing. I think there are so many ways to participate in social change and I get excited realizing that the volunteers engage in a variety of ways and really make an impact on their agencies and communities. I also love the team here at JVC Northwest! I just have to say that the other area directors are so committed and fun to work with, so I feel grateful that I get to come to work every day with people I respect, admire, and enjoy.

JVC Northwest has obviously been a big part of my life. I love that my personal values are supported by the work that I'm doing. I also think it's a wonderful expression of Jesuit tradition and faith. Santa Clara introduced me to Jesuit tradition and values, and JVC Northwest has continued to foster the connection between my faith and my desire to work for justice.