Service Site FAQs

What is BSC?
How is BSC different from other volunteer programs?
Who applies for BSC and why?
Do volunteers speak English and/or Spanish?
What is needed to develop a partnership and place a volunteer through BSC?
After developing a partnership with BSC, am I guaranteed a volunteer each year?
When can/should service sites apply?
What are the dates of the volunteer year?
What is the time commitment to the volunteer service year?
How much does a volunteer cost?
When is payment due?
Does BSC do background checks on volunteers?
Are volunteers provided insurance?
What is the vacation policy for volunteers?
How is BSC affiliated with AmeriCorps?
How do BSC volunteers differ from AmeriCorps members?
How does the AmeriCorps Education Award Program affect me or my volunteer?
How are volunteer hours documented?
Are volunteers required to document anything else during their year of service?
How are placement sites chosen and volunteers matched?
How are individual volunteers selected to serve at an organization?
Once a BSC volunteer has been matched with my organization, what do I need to do before they can begin?
How are volunteers oriented?
How are volunteers compensated during their year of service?
Where do volunteers live?
What do volunteers use for transportation purposes?
What commitments do volunteers have, other than working?
What is the accountability of BSC to volunteers and placement organizations?
What do most volunteers do after their year of service?
I would like to learn more about the volunteers. Where can I look?
I have more questions or would like to talk to a BSC staff member about becoming a placement organization. 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.

Back to Top

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 year of service. Community events (community nights, community days, and community retreats) offer programming to provide specific assistance (trainings workshops, processing), as well as an overall context for the service year.

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

Back to Top

Who applies for BSC and why?

Border Servant Corps welcomes applicants from across the nation who seek to do a year of service on the U.S. / México border. Some are looking for an opportunity for hands-on direct service in their career of choice or work in the field for a year to clarify their life’s direction. Others seek an opportunity to learn and grow from the experience of service and community. Still others simply seek the experience of something very new and challenging. But one thing they all hold in common is a commitment to the four tenets of BSC: Community, Simplicity, Social Justice, and Spirituality.

Back to Top

Do volunteers speak English and/or Spanish?

Many applicants have fluency in English and Spanish when applying for BSC; however, not all volunteers are required to have fluency in either language. All volunteers are screened for their abilities and placed according to the request of each organization.

Back to Top

What is needed to develop a partnership and place a volunteer through BSC?

  • Site Description: A description of the organization’s mission, focus, and values.
  • Name and Title of Direct Supervisor: One person must be designated as the person to whom the volunteer is directly responsible. This person will also be designated the “Site Supervisor.”
  • Job Description: A detailed job description of how a volunteer would serve in an organization including day to day activities. An organization may submit more than one job description for needed positions, prioritized by need. Border Servant Corps volunteers cannot be used for general office or janitorial help unless prescribed by the volunteer themselves. When applicable, AmeriCorps also has a list of directly prohibited activities.
  • Commitment of Relationship.
  • Current brochures and public relations materials.

Back to Top

After developing a partnership with BSC, am I guaranteed a volunteer each year?

BSC works year-round to recruit quality volunteers for each service year. Most years, applications exceed placement availability and all service sites are filled. While this is always the aim, organizations are not guaranteed to receive a volunteer each year.

Back to Top

When can/should service sites apply?

Service sites applications are due on October 31st for the upcoming service year).  To read about the timeline see Apply to Become a Service Site.

Back to Top

What are the dates of the volunteer year?

The volunteer service year is from August to July. The volunteer’s first week is spent in orientation by BSC, providing the volunteer with their initial context about the borderland and the program. The second week, the volunteer spends one week at a service site orientation, designed by each service site.

The week after, the volunteer returns to the service site and begins their uninterrupted service as a full-time volunteer. After the conclusion of a volunteer’s year of service, the organization will have three weeks without a volunteer (a two-week program break and one week of new volunteer orientation).

Back to Top

What is the time commitment to the volunteer service year?

BSC requires a one-year commitment from August to July each year. Volunteers begin with a mandatory week-long orientation each year and complete their service year two weeks prior to the beginning of the next service year.

Back to Top

How much does a volunteer cost?

Each organization pays $10,000.00 per year for one full-time volunteer (40 hours per week).

The actual cost of supporting a volunteer is more than $14,000. BSC fundraises for the funds not covered by the organizations. This cost covers the volunteer’s expenses for the year and includes: Health Insurance, Housing and Utilities, House Food Costs, Medical/Volunteer Support, Monthly Personal Stipend, and Program Administration.

Back to Top

When is payment due?

Payments of $833.33 are due to the BSC on the first of every month, beginning in October. Failure to pay in a timely manner may result in the removal of a volunteer and will jeopardize a service site’s opportunity to host a volunteer in the future.

Back to Top

Does BSC do background checks on volunteers?

BSC conducts a national criminal and sex offender registry background check through LexisNexis Online Screening and an FBI background checks. Additional background checks required for work are the responsibility of the service site.

Back to Top

Are volunteers provided insurance?

BSC provides health insurance and Worker’s Compensation to all volunteers. Professional Liability Insurance for volunteers should be covered by each service site under their existing policy.

Back to Top

What is the vacation policy for volunteers?

BSC volunteers receive at least 10 working days of annual leave during the year, in addition to the initial week of orientation. Volunteers participate in Community Nights, Community Days, and Community Retreats throughout the year in order to build community and provide further educational opportunities. Community activities do not count against a volunteer’s two weeks’ vacation.

BSC encourages each organization to afford vacation time and sick leave as it would for a long-term employee. If volunteers need any more time, organizations have the ability to request the volunteer work more one week at the end of their service year in order to make up for time.

Back to Top

How is BSC affiliated with AmeriCorps?

Each year, BSC applies for an education grant for eligible volunteer positions. The AmeriCorps Education Awards Program allows volunteers to receive an education grant at the end of one year of service to be used to pay off previously obtained student loans or to be used for further education.

AmeriCorps Education Awards are contingent upon funding on a national level and are not guaranteed until approved on a yearly basis.

Back to Top

How do BSC volunteers differ from AmeriCorps members?

Border Servant Corps volunteers are much more than volunteers! But what are they?? An employee? They don’t get paid like one. A volunteer? They work more and get some compensation.

BSC volunteers are participants in both the AmeriCorps program and the Border Servant Corps program. In both cases, they are assigned to work in a full-time capacity at their placement organization. During their time with their organization, they have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities, all within reason, as other staff members.

What sets BSC volunteers apart from simply being an AmeriCorps member is that each volunteer has committed to BSC programming in addition to the work they do for their placement organization, adhering to the four BSC tenets of Community, Simplicity, Social Justice, and Spirituality.

Back to Top

How does the AmeriCorps Education Award Program affect me or my volunteer?

In years when BSC is affiliated with AmeriCorps, most BSC volunteers qualify for the AmeriCorps Education Award Program (AEAP), which is administered out of the Border Servant Corps office through the umbrella organization called the Catholic Volunteer Network (CVN). AEAP is a program of the federal government made available through the “Corporation for National Service”which also sponsors Peace Corps, VISTA, and AmeriCorps. Through the AEAP, volunteers completing 1700 hours of service receive an education grant at the end of one year of service which allows $5,350 to be used to pay off previously obtained student loans or to be used for further education (for half-time awards, the values are 900 completed AmeriCorps hours for $2,675). As with any government program there is much paper work, reporting, and many rules required to participate. Border Servant Corps and CVN will handle most of this. Site supervisors are required to sign monthly timesheets and conduct a mid-term and final evaluation to ensure that no ineligible hours are counted on those timesheets and to check performance. Any requirements of the sponsoring organizations will be outlined to qualifying organizations.

Back to Top

How are volunteer hours documented?

Each service site provides a format specific to their organization for BSC volunteers to document her/his hours.

Back to Top

Are volunteers required to document anything else during their year of service?

In addition to checking volunteer hours, volunteers also document service accomplishments for AmeriCorps, when applicable. Site supervisors will also check service accomplishments online for accuracy. Service accomplishments attempt to measure how many people were served in a given type of service. These numbers should only count new people served and not recount people from month to month in order for AmeriCorps and CVN to receive a cumulative count for people served each year.

Back to Top

How are service sites chosen and volunteers matched?

One of the most important factors in determining whether a volunteer completes their year and learns and grows from the experience is the placement process. Placing the volunteer in an organization that makes use of the gifts and interests they bring and challenges them to grow is paramount to the success of the Border Servant Corps, the site served, and the volunteer.

To honor this commitment, and be faithful to the mission of the Border Servant Corps, the following is considered when selecting service sites and placing volunteers:

  • Philosophy: All service sites must be non-profit and serve issues of poverty and justice.
  • Hospitality: All service sites must live out a philosophy that respects and honors the rights of those who are victims of poverty and injustice.
  • Job Description: Service sites that utilize and stretch the skills of volunteers and adhere to AmeriCorps regulations, when applicable, will be filled first.
  • Ability to Pay: A service site’s ability pay for the volunteer’s year of service
  • Availability: Matching appropriate applicants where a volunteer’s skills will match the needs of service sites.

Back to Top

How are individual volunteers selected to serve at an organization?

BSC conducts initial screening of volunteers. After the initial screening has been conducted, service sites will have the opportunity to interview potential volunteers. BSC will take into consideration input from potential volunteers and service sites when matching volunteers with organizations.

This is considered to be a personal process in which the BSC staff is in constant communication with the volunteers and the service site’s supervisors. This takes place during the Spring. It is extremely important that the service site is a part of this process in order for the prospective volunteer to make a connection with their potential service site.

Back to Top

Once a BSC volunteer has been matched with my organization, what do I need to do before they can begin?

Submit the BSC Letter of Committed Relationship.

Back to Top

How are volunteers oriented?

Border Servant Corps provides volunteers orientation to community life during the first week after their arrival. The entire community will visit and tour each job site during this week.

It is the responsibility of each service site to orient their volunteer for their specific site. This should be overseen by the site supervisor and address the following:

  • Job training
  • Emergency procedures
  • Discussion around topic of client/provider boundary issues
  • Vacation and sick leave policy
  • Supervisory chain of command

Back to Top

How are volunteers compensated during their year of service?

Each volunteer receives a monthly stipend to cover basic personal needs. Monthly food stipends are provided to each house, based on the number of volunteers. Housing, health care and transportation for community activities are provided through BSC. At the completion of each service year, volunteers receive a relocation stipend.

Additionally, qualifying volunteers will receive an AmeriCorps Education Award at the end of one year of service in order to pay off previously obtained student loans or to be used for further education.

Back to Top

Where do volunteers live?

Volunteers live in houses in safe neighborhoods, with four to six fellow volunteers. Houses are located in areas that are within a sensible proximity to each service site for transportation purposes.

Each volunteer is provided with their own bedroom. Houses are fitted as move-in ready for volunteers in a simple manner that will meet their basic needs for the year (furniture, linens, kitchen supplies, etc.).

Back to Top

What do volunteers use for transportation purposes?

Each volunteer is provided a bicycle with which to travel to and from work sites, grocery stores, etc. All BSC service sites are within walking or biking distance from the houses.

Any mileage incurred for work-related activities are the responsibility of the service site. Most volunteers will not have a personal vehicle.

Back to Top

What commitments do volunteers have, other than working?

A major element of the BSC experience is the involvement in intentional community. This undertaking requires a considerable investment on the part of the volunteer. It is very important that each participating organization have an understanding of the investment of time and personal effort this endeavor requires. In order to protect the “intentionality”of each community the following are absolutes:

  • Work on weekends and evenings should be limited and reasonable to ensure that volunteers can maintain their commitment to community.
  • Every Monday night throughout the year is Community Night. Every volunteer must be finished with work by 5:00 p.m. on Monday and not required to return until Tuesday morning.
  • One Friday every month is Community Day. Every volunteer must participate in Community Days and not required to return until the following work day.
  • Volunteers are expected to work 35-40 hours per week. The volunteer must be given regular compensatory time off if the workload exceeds this amount.

Back to Top

What is the accountability of BSC to volunteers and service sites?

Three work site visits are scheduled per year:

  • Site Check-In: Completed during the first two months of service to check on potential issues and see how the volunteer is faring. This visit also provides an opportunity for sites and volunteers to discuss any potential changes needed.
  • Mid-Term Evaluations: Completed in January or February to check on volunteer’s overall progress and any major concerns that either the volunteer or the service site has about the volunteer’s placement.
  • Final Evaluations: Completed in July or August to measure improvement from Mid-Term Evaluations and the overall performance of the volunteer for the service year.

BSC staff is always available to address issues or concerns at any time. Service sites are encouraged not to wait for a scheduled evaluation in order to voice concerns. We value our relationships with our service sites and strive to maintain that healthy connection.

Back to Top

What do most volunteers do after their year of service?

On the border, volunteers are inspired, humbled, challenged, and changed…some may even say volunteers are “ruined for life.” Now, in all parts of the world, BSC alumni continue to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly in a myriad of capacities; doctors, lawyers, ministers, social workers, educators (just to name a few).

In recent years, about twenty percent of volunteers have chosen to stay for a second year of service with BSC; some participate in additional years of service through other volunteer programs, both nationally and internationally. At times, volunteers are hired at their placement site or offered other positions within the community. Others continue in their education through graduate school.

For qualifying volunteers, AmeriCorps Alums gets alumni connected, equipped, and engaged in order to foster their natural leadership drive and potential. The alumni network helps make connections with fellow alumni across the United States and hosts a database for Career Development that includes a Career Survey, a Career Center, and Professional Development opportunities.

No matter their course of action after a year of service, volunteers find themselves more informed about themselves and the world around them in order to continue in their pursuit of doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with their God.

Back to Top

I would like to learn more about the volunteers. Where can I look?

Please feel free to use the BSC Yearlong Volunteer FAQ page to provide further insight on the volunteer experience.

Back to Top

I have more questions or would like to talk to a BSC staff member about becoming a placement organization. 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.

Back to Top