Short Term Volunteer FAQs

What is BSC?
How is BSC different from other volunteer programs?
How is BSC affiliated with the Lutheran church?
Are short term volunteers required to be Lutheran and/or Christian?
Do short term volunteers qualify to be AmeriCorps members?
How do I qualify to become a short term volunteer?
Are short term volunteers required to be United States citizens?
Do short term volunteers need to speak English and/or Spanish?
Does BSC accept couples?
Does BSC accept applicants with dependent children?
How and when do short term volunteers apply?
Is there an application fee?
What is the time commitment to the short term of service?
How are short term volunteers compensated during their term of service?
Are short term volunteers required to have insurance?
Do short term volunteers receive vacation time?
Do short term volunteers receive assistance with student loans?
Where do short term volunteers serve?
What kind of hours do short term volunteers work?
Where do short term volunteers live?
Are the communities safe?
What do short term volunteers use for transportation purposes?
Are short term volunteers allowed to bring animals?
What is intentional community?
How do volunteers express simplicity?
How do volunteers practice social justice?
How do volunteers express spirituality?
What is a Community Night?
What do most short term volunteers do after their term of service?
I have more questions. Who should I contact?

What is BSC?

Border Servant Corps (BSC) hosts full-time volunteers that live in intentional community, learn about living simply, work for social justice, and explore spirituality on the U.S. / México border. Volunteers work with issues such as poverty, immigration, domestic violence, education, and health care with opportunities to work in churches, shelters, legal centers, after-school programs, clinics, and more!

BSC was founded in 1997 by Dot Quaintance, a retiree and member of Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces, NM. Since its inception, more than 100 volunteers have participated in the Border Servant Corps experience. For more complete information, see BSC History.

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How is BSC different from other volunteer programs?

BSC serves along the U.S. / México border in organizations that strive to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly in the region. BSC provides volunteers the opportunity to participate in a unique cultural experience, including both an international boundary and the American Southwest, while serving in the domestic United States. In addition, volunteers are afforded the opportunity to speak, or learn to speak, Spanish in their placement site and/or community.

BSC offers programming surrounding four tenets that help shape a volunteer’s term of service. Community events (community nights and community retreats) offer programming to provide specific assistance, as well as an overall context for the service term.

The community aspect of BSC allows participants to both give and receive support during their daily lives. In addition, participants are supported by BSC staff members, board members, and support committees in each city.

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How is BSC affiliated with the Lutheran church?

BSC was established as a ministry of Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces, NM (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) in 1997. Through the years, BSC has been blessed by the generous support of the congregation and community. In recent years, the support base for the program has expanded exponentially to include church and community support from organizations that support the mission in Las Cruces, NM and El Paso, TX.

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Are short term volunteers required to be Lutheran and/or Christian?

Although BSC is a ministry of Peace Lutheran Church, short term volunteers are not required to be Lutheran and/or Christian. Spirituality is a tenet that is explored as a community and enriched by diversity. For more complete information, see “How do short term volunteers express spirituality?”

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Do short term volunteers qualify to be AmeriCorps members?

Only BSC yearlong volunteers qualify to be AmeriCorps members.

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How do I qualify to become an intern?

BSC welcomes applications from persons who are 18 years of ages or older and are interested in growing in the areas of community, simplicity, social justice and spirituality.

Because of the nature of the work and community life, applicants are requested to be in good physical and emotional health.

BSC does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, race, creed, age, culture, disability, economic class, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

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Are short term volunteers required to be United States citizens?

Short term volunteers are not required to be United States citizens, but non-U.S. citizens must secure their own visa.

International students currently studying in the United States are welcome to apply, but must take the necessary steps to secure their visa extension. For more information, see http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1268.html#15.

International applicants will receive equal programming accommodations (including stipends, living arrangements, etc.).

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Do short term volunteers need to speak English and/or Spanish?

Some placements have language requirements of varying levels, others do not. Fluency in Spanish and/or English will allow opportunities for short term volunteers to serve in different placements.

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Does BSC accept couples?

BSC accepts married couples and couples in committed relationships. Each partner in the relationship must be accepted individually and have a placement with BSC in order to participate in the program together. Each couple will be given one room within the house to which they are assigned.

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Does BSC accept applicants with dependent children?

BSC strongly encourages applicants to consider all of the commitments required from participants in a term of service.

While the traditional applicant participates in BSC before or after caring for dependent children, BSC is open to considering applicants that currently have dependent children. Each parent in the relationship must be accepted individually and have a placement with BSC in order to participate in the program together. Each family will be given one room within the house to which they are assigned.

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How and when do short term volunteers apply?

Applicants may complete an application and submit it, along with two references, to Border Servant Corps.

For more complete information, see BSC Short Term Volunteer Application Process.

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Is there an application fee?

BSC does not have an application fee, but strongly encourages applicants to consider the commitment before applying.  Short term volunteers contribute $200 per month toward their service, which is returned each month in the form of a $100 personal stipend and $100 added to the house community purse (food, household items, etc).

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What is the time commitment to the short term of service?

BSC offers two short terms: January and Summer (June & July). All short term volunteers begin their term of service with a mandatory orientation.

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How are short term volunteers compensated during their term of service?

Each intern receives a monthly stipend to cover basic personal needs. Monthly food stipends are provided to each community, based on the number of short term volunteers. Housing and transportation for community activities are provided through BSC.

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Are short term volunteers required to have insurance?

BSC requires all short term volunteers to have their own health insurance coverage.

BSC provides Worker’s Compensation to all short term volunteers. Professional Liability Insurance for short term volunteers is covered by each organization under their existing policy.

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Do short term volunteers receive vacation time?

Because the time commitment is so minimal (1-2 months), short term volunteers are not offered additional vacation time. Outside of a 40-hour workweek, short term volunteers are encouraged to take advantage of their time to get to know their community and the area.

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Do short term volunteers receive assistance with student loans?

Only yearlong volunteers receive assistance with student loans through BSC.

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Where do short term volunteers serve?

Our partnerships with local social service organizations provide integrity to the work we seek to do to promote social justice in the community.

Each placement allows the intern to serve through a variety of programs.

Please see at current yearlong placements to get an idea of where you would like most to serve.

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What kind of hours do short term volunteers work?

Work schedules vary depending upon each placement. Typically, offices and clinics have their primary working hours during the daytime with weekends off; however, some placements such as after school programs and churches may require evening and weekend hours.

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Where do short term volunteers live?

Short term volunteers live in the community house with yearlong volunteers. Accommodations are located in areas that are within a sensible proximity to each placement site for transportation purposes.

Each intern is provided with their own room. Accommodations are fitted as move-in ready for short term volunteers in a simple manner that will meet their basic needs for the service term (linens, towels, kitchen supplies, etc.).

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Are the communities safe?

BSC has been fortunate to live and work in cities where there is little crime and short term volunteers generally feel safe. As in any city, petty crimes do occur; however, short term volunteers are instructed during orientation as to how to take precautions to keep themselves and their belongings the safest possible.

Short term volunteers are encouraged to acknowledge their strong community resources through placement sites, support committees and friends of the BSC. Community living also adds safety through accountability practices and the sheer number of short term volunteers looking out for one another.

In 2011, El Paso was named the safest city of its size (500,000 or more population). Las Cruces, decidedly smaller (less than 100,000 population), also reports a low crime rate.

For more complete information, see Border Region.

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What do short term volunteers use for transportation purposes?

All BSC placements are within walking or biking distance from accommodations. Each short term volunteer is provided a bicycle, if applicable, with which to travel to and from work sites, grocery stores, etc.

Short term volunteers who bring cars are eligible for mileage reimbursement when requested to provide transportation by BSC staff for community purposes (not to and from work). Those who choose to bring their cars are encouraged to use them sparingly and with intentionality.

All short term volunteers, with or without cars, are encouraged to use this term of service to live simply and take advantage of the weather in the Southwest!

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Are short term volunteers allowed to bring animals?

Animals, other than service animals, are not allowed to accompany short term volunteers during their term of service. In order to make the living spaces hospitable for persons of all personal and medical sensibilities, animals are not allowed. In addition, the living stipends and simple lifestyle of short term volunteers make animal maintenance difficult.

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What is intentional community?

Communities are acknowledged as both internal and external. BSC short term volunteers live within the realm of many communities, but find their most intentional community within each living space. One evening each week, volunteers join together for a meal and programming reflective of the community’s needs.

Decisions within the community are made using a consensus model, where each voice is heard, respected and assists in the decision-making. Together, volunteers make financial decisions about their living space, decide upon chore schedules, hold one another accountable to their community covenant and lead community events within and without their individual house community.

Through this process, volunteers are able to rely upon one another and become a strong support system during the daily joys and struggles of service.

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How do volunteers express simplicity?

BSC volunteers express simplicity by intentionally examining their time and resources. Volunteers seek to respect and challenge one another as they practice decision-making about financial decisions, energy use, and sustainability. Volunteers are encouraged to live within their stipends in order to practice simplicity and solidarity.

Oftentimes, volunteers come to BSC having lived lives full of time commitments with work, school, family, and friends. During this term of service, volunteers are encouraged to examine their activities; determining the difference between being “busy” and value-filled activities. In this respect, volunteers are asked not to hold additional jobs or enroll in classes for credit.

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How do volunteers practice social justice?

Volunteers work in established organizations that provide assistance to the economically disadvantaged, develop long-term projects to sustain the community, and seek to empower marginalized populations. Our placement sites focus on issues such as immigration, education, homelessness, health care, and domestic violence. Volunteers learn about these issues as they work in the community.

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How do volunteers express spirituality?

BSC welcomes applicants of all faiths, and those of no particular faith background, to explore this tenet together in community. During this term of service, volunteers  support and encourage one another in their spiritual growth through reading, reflection, spiritual practices, and discussion. Spirituality grounds and centers volunteers in their work and interaction with others.

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What is a Community Night?

Community nights are scheduled one designated evening per week. A Call to Focus (poem, prayer, song, short activity, etc.) begins the intentional time together. The community shares in a joint meal and plans the evening activity, according to the tenet assigned to that evening. This evening also serves as an opportunity for BSC staff to discuss business items and for community members to express any items they wish with the entire community.

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What do most short term volunteers do after their term of service?

On the border, participants are impacted in a variety of ways. Volunteers are often inspired to return to their communities to educate, serve, and impact change. Some volunteers return year after year in order to build upon relationships and knowledge that influence their lives at home.

Some short term volunteers use this program to determine if they would like to apply to serve as a BSC Yearlong Volunteer; others participate in additional years of service through other volunteer programs, both nationally and internationally.

No matter a participant’s course of action after their experience, they typically find themselves more informed about themselves personally and the world around them.

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I have more questions. Who should I contact?

Please feel free to contact us; we are happy to hear of your interest! For more complete information, see Contact BSC.

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