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James Conroy

Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC)
Purpose Prize Fellow 2007

Matching older volunteers with nonprofits in the Jesuit spirit of service.

Jim Conroy was a Jesuit priest in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, when a recent retiree expressed interest in participating in the community service experiences that the church had provided for his son. Conroy recognized an opportunity to connect retirees with nonprofit organizations working to address the concerns of low-income people. Along with another, now-deceased, priest, Conroy launched the Ignatian Volunteer Corps in 1995. The program integrates Jesuit principles of service, reflection, and education by developing partnerships with community nonprofit organizations and working together to ensure volunteers over 50 years old the opportunity to serve the poor while having a meaningful learning and life experience. In turn, volunteers commit to a consistent, dependable schedule to build strong bridges with the people being served and deliver high-quality service. Today more than 250 Ignatian Volunteer Corps members in 12 regional programs nationwide provide more than 176,000 hours of service, valued at almost $3 million annually, and four of five volunteers continue from year to year.