Where will I stay?
Volunteers sleep in the houses where they are assigned to work. Most volunteers have their own room, though it’s possible that two volunteers might share a room. These rooms are private, either in a volunteer section of the house or with a door that can be locked. Accommodations are simple, in keeping with the spirit of the house.
Why don’t you offer a stipend?
Annunciation House provides an experience of solidarity with the people we accompany on the border. Volunteers live in the same house with the guests, eat meals together from the same food pantry, and have access to all the other services offered the guests, such as the clothing bank and personal hygiene products. Living simply with the guests of our houses, volunteers find meaning and value in relationships and experiences, the connections they develop with each other, with the guests, and with their spirituality.
Do you offer insurance?
Annunciation House offers catastrophic insurance to cover emergency situations. More information about this coverage can be found here [LINK TO PAGE ABOUT INSURANCE]. Volunteers who do not have their own health insurance obtain preventative and non-emergency care from a local clinic for indigent patients. This is the same clinic used by most of our guests.
Do I have to be Catholic?
Annunciation House accepts volunteers from all faith backgrounds, and the organization is committed to respecting the faiths of our volunteers and guests alike. There is no proselytizing in the houses. More can be found about the spirituality of the work here [LINK TO FAITH AND SPIRITUALITY IN THE HOUSES. At the same time, Catholicism is central to the history and life of the houses. Most of our guests are Catholic, and the houses are firmly rooted in the Catholic tradition. While volunteers do not need to be Catholic, they must be open to the organization’s Catholic identity. For example, Mass is a critical component of the house life, shared with guests and with the volunteer community during special services or gathers, and volunteers are expected to attend. For some, participation is part of deepening their Catholic faith. For others, attendance allows time to reflect on their own personal spiritual journey. For still others, going to Mass is primarily an expression of solidarity with our guests and a chance to build community with the volunteers.
I’ve heard about the violence in Juarez. Will I be safe?
It is true that Ciudad Juarez is one of the most violent cities in the world, a heart breaking reality that has touched the lives of many of our guests and community members. At the same time, El Paso remains one of the safest cities in the United States, with one of the lowest violent crime rates in the country. This reality underscores the deep divide between the two cities and countries, a divide that exists contrary to our physical proximity, interconnected existence, and shared humanity. Safety can never be guaranteed, of course, but volunteers are not required to cross the border or placed in situations that the organization considers unsafe.
What is the volunteer community like?
The community changes, as new volunteers arrive and volunteers who have completed their commitments move on. Many of our volunteers are recent college graduates, looking to live with meaning and purpose as they prepare for graduate school or careers. Other volunteers come to the house with more life experience, sometimes leaving careers and exploring a new way of being in the world. Often, the houses are blessed with volunteers who decide to extend their commitments, staying for two, three, and more years, their experiences in the houses enriching the community and providing leadership and mentoring for new volunteers. Annunciation House volunteers are men and women of different faiths, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientation, forming a community based on a shared desire to explore our own spirituality and salvation through living in solidarity with the poor and oppressed in migration.