As director of the newly opened Career Center, Kevin Pratt spent 35 years working hard to connect Gonzaga students with resources to pursue their career paths. He loved helping students dig deeper into their calling and identify particular gifts that they care about. “In college, experience changes perspectives,” Pratt says.
He developed the Gonzaga Alumni Mentor Program (GAMP), which allows Gonzaga students to connect with alumni who are working in a student’s career path of choice. More than 3,000 Gonzaga graduates have chosen to serve as mentors. Pratt also was instrumental in developing Gonzaga’s Trek programs – excursions to key cities where students explore different work environments and begin to network. “It’s amazing to see that sense of community still at work, and to see alums who still feel committed to Gonzaga.”
Once Pratt retired, he enjoyed the flexibility and freedom, but missed a sense of purpose. “I wanted to be engaged,” says Pratt. “I didn’t know if I should volunteer or get a part-time job.”
In the midst of this questioning, Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest (JVC Northwest) reached out to Pratt with an opportunity to start a new Jesuit Volunteer EnCorps (JV EnCorps) program in Spokane, which would allow him to create a meaningful space for those feeling that same restlessness.
JVC Northwest, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, includes volunteers who “commit to serving local community needs in the Pacific Northwest by providing valuecentered service grounded in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition.” The JV EnCorps program was born out of JVC Northwest in Portland five years ago as a way to reintroduce former Jesuit Volunteers to living life with service and community at the core. Now the program has grown to welcome those over 50,
both familiar and unfamiliar with JVC Northwest, who, like Pratt, are looking for purpose postretirement.
“This is still a stage of our career. It’s just a different stage.”
The inclusiveness and spirituality of the Jesuits that Pratt experienced at Gonzaga led him to accept the position. He says being involved in JV EnCorps is an opportunity to serve people on the margins, but also a time to refl ect on what’s coming next in life. “This is still a stage of our career. It’s just a different stage,” he says. JV EnCorps is active in four cities: Portland, Seattle, Bend and, beginning this year, Spokane.
JV EnCorps communities are rooted in the values of JVC Northwest: community, simple living, spirituality, and social and ecological justice.
JVC Northwest traces its roots to 1956 when a small group of volunteers helped build and teach in the new Copper Valley School in Alaska, a boarding school for Native Alaskan and European-descent Alaskan students. Gonzaga students and graduates were some of the first volunteers there, supported by the Jesuits of the Oregon Province and the Sisters of St. Anne. During its 60th anniversary in 2016, JVC Northwest has offered many opportunities for former Jesuit volunteers
to reconnect and celebrate.
Interested? Email Kevin Pratt at firstname.lastname@example.org.