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Recent college grad picks different ladder to climb

Ask a recent college graduate what a good salary is, and you might get a variety of answers. But you likely won’t get one like Mark Grose’s.

“I consider myself lucky. I get a $100 stipend per month!” he told the Denver Catholic Register Sept. 29.

Grose is a Colorado Vincentian Volunteer, one of 20 young adults who have made a one-year commitment to serve Denver’s poor, elderly, homeless, developmentally disabled and troubled youth. The volunteers live together while working full time at area nonprofit and charitable agencies.

A graduate of the University of Southern Indiana, Grose applied to the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers (CVV) after being introduced to it by the Daughters of Charity in his home state.

“In today’s culture you’re expected to get a job after college right away,” he said. “But I asked myself: Do I want to grow spiritually or be independent? I thought about what’s important, and it’s my faith.”

He realized living the Gospel message would instill in him the tools he would need for life after CVV.

“Not all of our neighbors are the same, we have a variety. My job is to love all of them,” Grose said. “This is a core value that I can apply to any job I ever get down the road. I prayed and realized that this could be a new way to love my neighbor.”

Inspired by the charism of St. Vincent de Paul, Mary Frances and Bill Jaster founded the CVV in 1994 after participating in mission trips to Guatemala and Honduras, and later in Houston with the Catholic Worker movement. Now in its 20th year, CVV has placed young adults between the ages of 22-30 in some 60 Denver agencies including Mount St. Vincent Home treatment center for youth, Annunciation School and St. Francis Center, a homeless shelter.

Grose’s assignment: Archdiocesan Housing, where he serves as special events coordinator for St. Martin Plaza at 1300 Bruce Randolph Ave., a building that provides subsidized housing for seniors. At St. Martin’s, Grose spends a typical day coordinating afternoon bingo for the residents, or planning a trip to the mountains for a glimpse of the fall leaves and an afternoon picnic.

“Not all living facilities for the elderly offer entertainment and planned activities,” he explained. “It’s an extra. It’s like the whip cream and the cherry on top.”

But it’s not the fine points of his job that inspire Grose most. It’s the spiritual encounters he has with the residents.

“Some of these people are lonely,” he said, “and I’m able to provide fellowship.”

Fellowship is a priority in the CVV community, who meet as a group every Monday for Mass, along with reflection and discussion. Grose has been surprised by his spiritual experience.

“When I came here, I knew I was going to be helping the less fortunate,” he said. “But I didn’t expect how close our community was going to become by helping each other spiritually.”

In 20 years of running the CVV, Mary Frances Jaster has enjoyed seeing the transformations in young people.

“To see a change in heart and perspective to help them on their journey is a gift,” she said.

Grose sees it as a mutual gift.

“As volunteers we think we’re going to change lives, but the people we serve give back to us,” he said. “It’s a giving and a receiving.”

To learn more about the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, visit www.covivo.org or call 303-863-8141.

Colorado Vincentian Volunteers 1994-2014

– CVV community homes are located at 1732 and 1738 Pearl St. The organization plans to purchase a third property at 1544 Pearl St.
– An alumni event was held Sept. 26 which included an afternoon of service, followed by reflection centering on “Christ has no body but yours.”
– Two hundred people attended a 20th anniversary dinner and prayer service Sept. 27 held at St. Joseph Hospital.

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