David Hilleary poses with Jeff Goranites, left, Suzie Cloutier and Noel Thompson before a STRIVE podcast interview in March. Hilleary, an Ignatian Volunteer Corps volunteer, helps write grants for STRIVE. Courtesy / STRIVE

SOUTH PORTLAND — When David Hilleary moved to South Portland from California to be closer to family two years ago, he looked for a way to get involved in his new community.

Hilleary, a retired commercial banker and consultant, said he found the right opportunity through Ignatian Volunteer Corps, an organization that started 25 years ago in Washington, D.C., and last year expanded to the Portland area.

“I heard about it at church and it struck a chord with me,” Hilleary said.

Program director Kathy Crosson, a Cape Elizabeth resident, said volunteers are matched with organizations that serve the poor, marginalized and those in need. Volunteers are required to commit 600 hours over the course of 10 months to their organization.

Current partner sites include STRIVE, Catholic Charities of Maine, Friends of Portland Adult Education, Cheverus High School, St. Brigid’s School in Portland and Holy Cross School in South Portland.

The program has a strong spiritual component, said the Rev. Paul Sullivan, pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Portland. Each volunteer is assigned a spiritual mentor from the community. They are required to keep a journal chronicling their spiritual journey and meet with their mentor monthly to talk about how they have found God in the work they are doing. Volunteers are also required to attend spiritual reflection retreats.

“Portland is such a prime spot for something like this. There are a lot of seniors looking to serve and explore their spirituality,” said Crosson, who prior to moving to Maine was an Ignatian volunteer in Washington, D.C., working with refugees. “There are so many social service organizations here.”

Since February, Hilleary has been helping STRIVE, an online independent living training program for people with intellectual disabilities, write grants for a new art studio space on Warren Avenue in Portland.

“We are able to use a skill set we would not have access to. Without him, we would have to hire a staff person. With all our volunteers we are looking to find a mutually beneficial relationship where they get out what they are looking for as well as serving the organization,” said PSL Services/STRIVE Associate Director Pete Brown.

Hilleary is one of seven local Ignatian volunteers.

The volunteers have been extremely valuable, said Judy Katzel, chief communications officer at Catholic Charities of Maine. Ignatian volunteers have assisted Catholic Charities with communications, fundraising and its Parish Social Ministry, a program that helps pair those needing emergency help with parish programs.

“Volunteers are very important to our ability to fulfill our programming,” she said.

Katzel said the volunteer in her office, Martha Gonzalez, has been working on the organization’s annual golf tournament, which raises money to help low-income families afford Catholic Charities of Maine’s child care centers.

“It is critically important to get those programs back up and running,” Katzel said.

Gonzalez, a retired higher education professional who worked in student affairs in Montana, said she has enjoyed her time as an Ignatian volunteer because it has helped her feel integrated in Catholic Charities of Maine’s work.

“You get to know the people. You are part of the work community there. You get really vested in your organization. I love the mission of Catholic Charities of Maine and I fully believe in serving our brothers and sisters in Christ,” said Gonzalez, a Portland resident.

For more information about the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, visit ivcusa.org/ivc-offices/welcome-to-ivc-portland-me/.

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