Frequently Asked Questions
About Living as an Amate Volunteer
About Financial Concerns
About Applying to Amate House
Our program is open to single young adults, aged 21-29, who are self-aware, mature, and motivated. Applicants are required to have a college degree or equivalent life experience. Applicants should have an interest in growing in the Amate House tenets of service, community, faith, social justice, and stewardship. Volunteers serve full-time in underresourced neighborhoods and live in co-ed, faith-based, intentional communities, so good communication skills, patience, a non-judgmental attitude, and a sense of humor are essential!
Amate House is an agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, and many aspects of our program are drawn from Catholic spirituality and tradition. Persons from all spiritual traditions are welcome to apply. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, economic status, gender, physical disability, or sexual orientation.
The 2013-14 Application deadline was April 1. Our Application for the 2014-15 Program Year will be posted this fall. If you have any questions, feel free to contact a Program and Recruitment Coordinator - Email us at email@example.com, or call us anytime at (773) 376-2445.
When is the Application deadline?
Our early deadline is February 1. The final deadline is April 1 - we occasionally accept applications after our final deadline, but this is dependent on the size of our applicant pool and how many spots we have already filled. Applications for the Volunteer program are processed on a rolling basis, so applicants will learn about their timeline for being informed about a final decision of acceptance during their interview. If you are interested in applying after our final deadline, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the Application process?
Applications are processed on a rolling basis. Once an application is received, we begin to process it and will contact the candidate for an informal phone interview, after which an in-person or Skype interview will be scheduled. In-person interviews begin in December, and Skype interviews will start in January. Interviews typically are conducted with two members of the Amate House Staff. We encourage potential volunteers to come to Chicago to interview, as it offers the opportunity of meeting us and some of our Volunteers. Early applications are recommended for priority site placement. Acceptance into the Volunteer program is offered on a rolling basis. Applicants will learn their timeline for a final decision of acceptance during their interview.
We strongly encourage prospective Volunteers to come to Chicago for interviews, simply because it offers the possibility of meeting us, seeing the living space, and possibly even a few sites, first-hand. However, we understand that travel is not always financially feasible, and so Skype interviews are also possible.
Once the application and interview process is completed and we have received all references, a decision about acceptance will be made by the Amate House staff.
In order to make these selections, several factors are considered, such as:
- Readiness for community living
- Commitment to a personal faith journey
- Openness to personal growth
- Past experience with volunteer service
- Willingness to work with others of different cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds
- Commitment to social justice
- Openness to living simply.
As the volunteer houses are filled each year, we also consider the balance of personalities in the group of accepted volunteers.
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About Serving with Amate House
Prior to beginning the site placement process, our Volunteers are asked to commit to the Amate House program - while direct service is a critical part of the Amate experience, it is just as essential that our Volunteers be willing to fully commit to our other tenets of community, faith, social justice, and stewardship. Once a prospective Volunteer confirms with our program, they are sent a list of site placements that are available to them.
After reviewing the job descriptions, the Volunteer selects 2-4 sites that they are interested in interviewing with. In-person interviews are highly recommended (and some sites require them), but some sites do allow for phone or Skype interviews. After the Volunteer has conducted all of his/her interviews, he/she communicates to the Amate Program Director his/her preferences. The Program Director will then contact the Volunteer's top preference and see if the site is interested in having the Volunteer fill the position. If so, the Volunteer is placed. If not, we will check with the second preference, and so on, until we find a match.
Due to the collaboration required for this process to work, we ask our Volunteers to be flexible in the process, and to be prepared and willing to accept a site placement that might not be their top choice. Our site placement process is unique because we believe that it is critical for both the site and the Volunteer to agree to the partnership - we give both sides the flexibility to either accept or reject a placement. This process has been extremely successful for us over the years - we boast over a 95% success rate for site placements!
Amate House Volunteers work in a wide variety of fields throughout the city. Each year, we have Volunteers serving in social service agencies, grade schools, legal aid clinics, parishes, high schools, health clinics, and other nonprofits. We serve in over 20 neighborhoods in the City of Chicago, and our work touches over 6,000 lives each year! Learn more about our service sites by clicking here.
Each Amate House volunteer receives 2 weeks of vacation (10 days) between August and June. Vacation may be taken at any point in the year, provided arrangements are worked out with the Volunteer site and Amate House staff. Typically, those working on school calendars take their two weeks during the Christmas/New Year's break. Other Volunteers have chosen to stay over the holidays and haven taken their vacation at other points during the year. Volunteers are asked to schedule their vacation around Amate House commitments, such as Community Nights, Retreats, etc.
Amate House covers the transportation of Volunteers to and from their service sites. Amate House owns and maintains a fleet of vehicles for Volunteer transportation. Many Volunteers also take public transportation to and from work.
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About Living as an Amate House Volunteer
House placement is determined by a variety of factors - where your service site is located plays a big role, but we also consider the gender balance of the communities, as well as the variety of personalities and life experiences. We currently have three houses in Chicago - each house is located in a different neighborhood, and each house has a unique character:
Amate House North, hosting a community of 10-14 men and women is located at St. Mary of the Lake Parish. The immediate neighborhood, Uptown, is considered one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse in all of Chicago. North House is a former convent building, and the second floor features a beautiful chapel.
Little Village House is located in the primarily-Mexican immigrant community of Little Village, or "La Villita," which is just southwest of downtown Chicago. This community hosts 8-9 men and women. The building is a former 2-flat building that was converted for communal living in 2011.
Amate House South, located in the McKinley Park neighborhood, hosts 10-13 Volunteers. The building is a former convent with a dedicated chapel and a recently-installed prayer garden space. The house is located just 1 block north of McKinley Park, one of the largest parks in the city.
Regardless of house, every Volunteer has their own private bedroom space. Bedroom size varies somewhat by house, but each room has a closet and is furnished with a twin sized bed, dresser, and 2-3 other pieces of furniture, such as a nightstand, desk, or chair. All houses have common bathrooms, shower rooms, kitchens, dining rooms and living rooms.
During the first month of the program, we ask that our Volunteers make a commitment to staying in Chicago. We find that this time is critical for acclimating to a new space and fostering community life. After the month of August, leaving for a weekend is generally not a problem for Amate House Volunteers. However, a few factors must be considered on any given weekend in discerning whether going away would be wise and acceptable. First, some sites require occasional or regular work on weekends. Second, we challenge our Volunteers to be mindful of how their presence or absence impacts community life. Third, occasional Amate House events are scheduled on weekend days. These dates are given out at the beginning of the Volunteer year. Volunteers are expected to check their work and Amate House calendars, as well as to confer with their fellow community members when making plans to leave for the weekend.
What do you mean by living simply?
Amate House Volunteers make the commitment to live simply over the course of their volunteer year. Many different motivations and reasons might exist among the group of volunteers each year for living more simply, and many conversations will ensue as to what that commitment means.
Amate House encourages the effort to live more simply primarily as a way to prompt deeper reflection on faith and lifestyle choices, as well as to encourage solidarity with those with whom we serve during the year. Commiting to a more simple lifestyle during the year typically will have implications for how money and time are spent individually and communally, and what values are lived out and reflected in the communal life.
Volunteers who complete a year at Amate House often say that their experience of living in community with other volunteers was the most unexpectedly rewarding part of the year… and also the most challenging. Living together with peers that you have not chosen, and learning to love and appreciate them for who they are, can be immensely challenging and surprisingly rewarding for one who is open to the learning and gifts that community living brings. Developing deep, transparent and mutual relationships is a lot of fun AND a lot of hard work. The relationships, experiences and skills that arise out of a commitment to "live community well" last a lifetime. In addition, the community that surrounds you as a Volunteer at Amate House will be your sounding board, your support, and your constant dialogue partner to enable the most fruitful year possible.
Each volunteer community works together to plan its menu and shopping choices. There are typically a number of vegetarians or those with specific food needs among the group of Volunteers. Arrangements are worked out with the community to attend to each individual's needs. We have many examples of communities that have been able to successfully navigate the challenges of vegetarianism, veganism, food allergies, etc.
Amate House takes Volunteer safety very seriously. We make sure that our residences are safe, secure, and well-lit. We coordinate the safe travel of our Volunteers to and from their worksites. Our Volunteers work almost exclusively during daytime hours. We work closely with our sites to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for all of our Volunteers. Our staff is local and can respond to incidents very quickly, if they occur. As a member of intentional community, living closely with other peers also provides an added degree of safety and accountability.
Because we are committed to serving the neighborhoods, schools, and organizations that are most in need, our Volunteers often work in areas with histories of socioeconomic and societal problems. Rather than gloss this over, we talk about it during the application process and throughout Orientation. Volunteers do need to have an ability and willingness to operate in the urban landscape, understanding that some places in the city might be outside of their comfort zone. Throughout the year, we stress the importance of being aware of oneself and one's surroundings. We have found that a mindfulness about safety and some common sense go a long way towards a successful and safe experience. Our program boasts an excellent track record in regards to safety, especially given our location in a major urban center like Chicago.
Amate House Volunteers meet once a week, on Wednesday nights, for Community Night. Community Night involves a business meeting, dinner, and an activity in the evening. Every Wednesday evening we either bring in a guest speaker, discuss and reflect on relevant issues, participate in a workshop together, or spend social time together as a group. In addition to Wednesday nights, Volunteers also meet once a week in their communities, for a prayer night. Amate House has a number of events outside the regular calendar, such as workshops, fundraisers, and other social or holiday activities. Volunteers receive a calendar of events for the year at the beginning of the year.
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About Financial Concerns
Each Amate House Volunteer receives a monthly allowance of $100, as well as a year-end, one-time allowance of $500. The Volunteer's room, board, food, health insurance, and transportation to and from work are provided by Amate House; allowance money does not need to be used for these purposes. Allowance money is usually used by Volunteers to pay cell phone bills, personal use of Amate House cars, purchases which are strictly for personal use, and socializing.
We have been a member of the CVN/Americorps Education Awards program for the past several years, and will continue to be as long as the money which supports AmeriCorps is passed through Congress each year. The AmeriCorps Education Awards program enables each Volunteer to obtain an educational voucher worth $5,325 at the completion of 1700 hours of volunteer service and education and training. The voucher can be applied towards past federal student loans or towards future education. Typically, Amate House Volunteers well surpass the required total in their 10 or so months of service. We are pleased to make this available to Amate House Volunteers each year as long as it is made available to our program. Note: This program is subject to federal funding and is not guaranteed.
Because volunteer service, community life, and other Amate House commitments take up a significant amount of time, we prohbit our Volunteers from gaining outside employment. We also prohibit Volunteers from taking classes, unless cleared with the Program Staff in advance. Volunteers who come into the year with outside financial obligations are expected to arrangements for how they will address these obligations prior to their arrival at Amate House.