"The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Luke 4:18-19

MVSA Mission Statement:

Providing opportunities to act on faith by assisting congregations in service to their communities.

Faith and Values Statement:
MVSA affirms the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective and shares the Mennonite community's Vision for Healing & Hope:

"God calls us to be followers of Jesus Christ, and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to grow as communities of grace, joy and peace, so that God's healing and hope flow through us to the world."

MVSA declares Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and as the model for service! Directions for MVSA arise from Jesus' life, ministry and teaching. Jesus worked among the poor and disenfranchised of his day. It is His example that we follow.

We Emphasize:

We believe that service:

We believe that service is best done in a community of servants committed to: caring for and confronting each other; living simply; recognizing the equality of women and men, young and old; worshiping and learning together.

Introduction to Mennonite Voluntary Service

Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) seeks to help meet the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged.

The local church is the focal point for meeting these needs. Mennonite Voluntary Service gives assistance to congregational outreach endeavours as they seek to serve the people in their communities.

Mennonite Voluntary Service is also committed to helping the church speak to issues related to peace, justice, faith, and other concerns.

We welcome you into Mennonite Voluntary Service. We value your commitment to Christian faith, to cooperative Unit living, and to caring for the needs of others while you grow and are nurtured. As an MVS volunteer you have an opportunity to use your gifts, training and experience to work with and learn from a wide variety of people and situations. During this time you will explore new places and opportunities, face difficult questions, and step out of the familiar into the unknown. You will walk with those in need in a troubled world, and you will be supported and prayed for by many people and churches while you do so.

The policies outlined in this manual will help you understand the financial, administrative, and spiritual resources and guidelines of the MVS programs. While providing order and clarity, policies can also be flexible when special situations arise. Volunteers may discuss needs not covered in this handbook with the local leadership. Any special arrangements should be detailed in the Volunteer's Covenant.

It is our hope that you will feel appreciated and supported as you undertake your assignment and that this handbook will be a handy tool to refer to during your term of service.

Mennonite Voluntary Service began in the United States in 1944, and in Canada in 1966 as a mission project of Hamilton Mennonite Church to address the needs of inner-city Hamilton. It has grown and changed over the years, and today, in Canada, it is run by a grass-roots organization - Mennonite Voluntary Service Adventure (MVSA) - and is active in five locations across the country.

Program Objectives:

Program Commitment:
Community: church-service-unit life Mennonite Voluntary Service has been developed to help participants become involved in issues and activities of a local community and a local Mennonite congregation, to share in a household where a simple lifestyle is affirmed and caring relationships are nurtured, and to demonstrate compassionate service which honours and imitates Jesus Christ's love for all people and his special concern for those who suffer from injustice.

Four essential components of the Voluntary Service experience are Unit Life, Service, Church, and Community.

Program Components:
While it is expected that participants will contribute to their hosting communities in significant ways, it is also expected that participants will come away from their experience with much new knowledge and insight. To facilitate participants' learning, a number of components have been put in place.


The following terms are used in the MVSA Handbook:

MVS Volunteers: Volunteers are individuals who bring unique skills, feelings and motivations to a full-time assignment.

All Volunteers commit to:

The MVS program is organized primarily for the benefit of single young adults, although older applicants and married couples will be considered on an individual basis by Units which can accommodate them.

No conditions are placed on older volunteers other than that they be compatible with the unit, and that they participate fully in the life of the unit.

Married couples will negotiate with the unit of their choice. Considerations to be discussed are:

It is unlikely that a Unit will be able to accommodate a couple with children, but that situation can be explored with individual units.

Unit: An MVS Unit is one or more individual living in a common residence in a particular geographic area and sharing living responsibilities and resources while serving to meet human needs.

Local Leadership: The MVS committee of the sponsoring congregation, or the person hired by the congregation to run the program.

Management Board: The Board is made up of representatives of each of the MVS congregations. It is responsible for guiding the ongoing activities of the program. The Board implements policy, conducts recruitment, and supports the local leadership.

Steering Committee: The Steering Committee is made up of Mennonites from MVS congregations and members of each of the five area conferences. It is responsible for developing policy, and has general oversight responsibility for all activities of the association.

Christliche Dienste and EREINE: These are two agencies in Germany from whom MVSA receives volunteers for one year terms. For some German volunteers MVS is an alternative to military service.

Management Board maintains an agreements with Christliche Dienste and EREINE, currently our only partnering agencies.

Term of Service

Philosophy: MVSA sees one of its strengths as being committed to local congregational outreach for the long term. The longer one is in a community, the more able one is to identify with the joy and sorrow of that community.

Length of Term: The preferred length of service is two years, although terms of greater or lesser lengths will be considered.

Short-term Service: Occasionally, the local leadership or an individual will arrange a term for less than a full year. The local leadership works out the details of a short-term assignment on a case-by-case basis.

Prior Service: Volunteers who have served with another Mennonite voluntary service program within the year prior to entering MVS may count this time as "prior service" in determining the length of time in MVS for adjusted allowances. A clear understanding of how much time will be counted should be reached with the local leadership and indicated in the MVS Covenant.

Changes in Assignment: Occasionally a reassignment to a different position or to a different location is necessary because of changes in programs-e.g., closing of Unit, changes in placements-or because the welfare of the volunteer or of the project makes it advisable. Volunteers are encouraged to keep local leadership informed of circumstances that might necessitate changes in their assignments. All changes are made in consultation with the local leadership, after a careful review of the program and the situation of the individual volunteer.

Extension of Term: Volunteers who are interested in extending their terms of service should discuss their interests with local leadership as early as possible. Extensions are not automatically granted, but depend upon program considerations.

End of Term of Service: An MVSA term ends on the date agreed upon at the time a volunteer enters the program. Occasionally, volunteers may be asked to extend their terms anywhere from a few days to a few months in order that their terms may overlap with those of their replacements.

Voluntary Early Termination: Occasionally program changes and/or changes in an individual volunteer's situation may make it necessary for the local leadership or agency to terminate the position early. When this is the case, the MVSA unit pays the volunteer's travel expenses home. Otherwise, volunteers are expected to remain in their assignments until the agreed upon termination date.

If a volunteer wants to terminate for personal reasons, he/she must discuss the situation with the local leadership. An attempt will be made to find alternatives to termination. If none is found, a healthy way for the volunteer to end his/her term will be worked upon with all parties involved.

When early termination is not initiated by the local leadership, the volunteer is responsible to cover transportation costs home.

Involuntary Early Termination: A volunteer may be asked by the local leadership to leave the Unit, with or without cause. Before such termination is initiated, conversations will take place between the local leadership, the volunteer, and also with the Unit. The Management board will be advised of this development.

If the involuntary termination is a disciplinary measure the volunteer may be responsible for transportation costs home.

Volunteers are expected to leave the household immediately after termination unless other arrangements have been made with the local leadership.

The Covenant

A letter of understanding and agreement, known as The Covenant, will be drawn up for each volunteer. This will be signed by local leadership and by the volunteer. The Covenant will state local terms, conditions, and expectations of the sponsoring church and the employing agency. Other understandings and expectations may be included as well. Changes to The Covenant during the volunteers term of service will only be made following discussions/negotiations between the volunteer and the local leadership.


Volunteers are introduced to voluntary service, and to their Unit, sponsoring church, and the larger community through a locally organized orientation program. This program also addresses issues of communal living, accountability, and preparation for the volunteers’ assignments. A review of relevant portions of the Handbook forms part of this orientation. When a volunteer begins a term partway through the year members of the Unit will participate in that volunteer’s orientation.

Non-Canadian Volunteers

"A volunteer from outside Canada will enter Canada on a work permit as a non-immigrant, temporary visitor to perform volunteer work of a charitable nature."

Foreign volunteers should not expect to stay in their host country beyond their periods of service. MVSA complies with the Canadian governments' expectations that volunteers will leave the country upon completion of their service assignments. Non-compliance with this expectation may jeopardize the MVSA program.

Unit Life

Philosophy and Commitment:
In most cases, a commitment to MVSA is a commitment to live communally in a household with other volunteers. Living in community requires tolerance, flexibility and a willingness to work at maintaining healthy relationships. Living in community also provides opportunities for rich fellowship and fun. Unit members share in household work and activities, and meet regularly with the household for Unit meetings and prayer or study sessions.

Volunteers commit themselves to the highest standards of personal and professional conduct. As such they are accountable to God, to the church, and to fellow volunteers with whom they live and work. Volunteers are called upon to show sensitive regard for the moral, social and religious values of others. At stake is the calling and style of living volunteers represent, the church they serve, and the witness of the Christian gospel.

Responsible Behaviour: Voluntary Service participants are representatives of their unit, of their host congregation(s), of their home congregation, and of the program and its intentions in the larger community. During their term of commitment participants are expected to make a good-faith effort to conduct themselves in a manner that protects and respects the health and well-being of others, themselves and the environment. Participants are expected to be open to counsel regarding what is perceived as addictive or emotionally unhealthy behaviour.

It is expected that participants will:

Disregard for any of the above stated expectations will result in discipline, and may result in dismissal from the program.

Relationship to Supporting Churches:
Although volunteers are not required to worship at the sponsoring congregation(s), a significant relationship should be developed and maintained. Sunday morning worship services are not the total life of the church, but they are an important part. Volunteers are encouraged to become involved in educational programs of the church, music, and worship leadership, or other areas of ministry. Volunteers should determine their priorities for service carefully in conjunction with both the Unit and local leadership. If active participation and worship with the sponsoring congregation is required in a particular location, the volunteer will be informed of this in the placement exploration process.

Acts of Conscience:
MVSA understands that in our walk with Christ there may be times that we feel moved to acts of conscience such as civil disobedience. These acts are individual decisions and thus may not be interpreted as representing the MVSA program. MVSA will support an individual through prayer, personal contact and affirmation. Persons making decisions of conscience do so at their own risk and expense since Mennonite Voluntary Service Adventure Canada will not assume any responsibility for legal or other related expenses.

Associate Members:
Occasionally, MVS units have people living in their residence who are not full-time volunteers. These may be students, short-term volunteers or people with regular earning jobs in the community. This type of arrangement must be approved by all Unit members and the local leadership. The associate member, Unit, and local leadership all sign a Covenant indicating the nature of the arrangement and their agreement to it. Associate members are expected to be fully involved in the life of the Unit, its activities and programs. They will pay a monthly living fee to the Unit for food and housing costs. At least 50% of the Unit household will be full-time volunteers. Associate members do not receive MVSA financial benefits.

At times, local congregations may choose to invite VSers from other voluntary service programs-such as MCC VS-to live in the VS house. It is the responsibility of the sponsoring congregation to invite and supervise such people in a manner that consistent with the regular operation of the MVSA house.

Basic Needs:
Sponsoring congregations provide for the basic needs of each volunteer: housing, food, transportation, medical coverage, and a monthly cash stipend. Linens are supplied and remain the property of the household. Unit funds are used to purchase personal hygienic articles such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, shaving materials, etc. Volunteers provide their own clothes, which should be suitable for the work they will do and the communities in which they live Volunteers are strongly encouraged to keep to a minimum the number of personal items they bring to their assignments. Appliances, furniture and large decorative items are not appropriate. Household members plan together for the wise and frugal use of money and supplies. Knowledge about conservation, ecology, health, and justice will be reflected in responsible decisions and habits. A service lifestyle is one of simplicity and freedom from the bondage-of-baggage. Local unit housing availability will determine whether a volunteer will have his/her own room or will have to share a room.

College Credit:
Most Mennonite colleges have special arrangements for MVSers wishing to earn college credit while on an MVS assignment. To receive credit, MVSers negotiate with the college for courses related to assignments. Arrangements for credit must be made before the service term begins. For more information on these arrangements, contact the Dean's office of the Mennonite college you are attending. MVSA has no formal arrangement with any Mennonite college.

Should a volunteer be temporarily unable to perform his/her work due to illness or an emergency in the immediate family, the volunteer may request an emergency leave. Emergency leave may be granted for periods of up to one month. Volunteers on emergency leave will be paid the regular personal allowance.

In the event of a death in the immediate family of a volunteer (i.e., parents, grandparents, siblings, children, in-laws), the Unit will cover travel costs to the funeral and back to the individual's assignment. Families and home congregations are encouraged to make a contribution to cover these costs.

When a volunteer needs to be away from an assignment for personal reasons, a non-emergency leave may be granted for up to 30 days without allowance, after conversation with the agency and local leadership.

Volunteers who serve with MVSA through other organizations such as Christliche Dienste and EIRENE will adhere to the policies for leaves of that organization.

Magazines and Newspapers:
Each Unit receives the Canadian Mennonite. Each Unit may choose one faith-based magazine (e.g., The Mennonite, The Other Side, Catholic Worker), one news magazine (e.g., McLeans, Time) and a local newspaper, to be paid out of Unit funds. Units who wish to receive additional periodicals should negotiate with their local leadership.

Each Unit should have weekly meetings that all Volunteers attend. The quality and vitality of Unit life depends upon these meetings. Agenda may include group and individual concerns, Bible study, opportunities to deal with faith issues, housekeeping matters, and administrative problems.

There will be monthly meetings of the local leadership and Units members. These meetings will contain How's-it-going? sessions, discussion of Unit house issues, prospective volunteers, new service opportunities, and unit relationships with community organizations and congregations should be reviewed. Minutes will be kept for future reference. Occasionally, local leadership will meet without the volunteers

Because of varying personal preferences, prejudices, allergies, etc., pets will not be kept in Unit households. Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the local leadership. Units will not pay any pet-related expenses.

Family and friends are encouraged to visit volunteers to learn about their involvements. All visits must be approved by the Unit household and are limited to a maximum of three days. Lodging and meal arrangements should be worked out according to available space in the household, with care taken to avoid having too many visitors at one time. Visitors who stay in the household are invited to take an active part in household life. No fee is charged, but visitors are encouraged to make a contribution towards the household costs incurred by their visit. Because of special circumstances, certain households may have more detailed visitor policies.

Romantic Relationships:
Establishing a romantic relationship during Voluntary Service, either within or outside of the household, has been shown to significantly distract participants from the objectives of the program. Such relationships are strongly discouraged. Should such a relationship develop, it is expected that:

Disregard for any of the above stated expectations will result in discipline, and may result in dismissal from the program.

Volunteers will provide verbal reports at the monthly meetings which tell about their employment and Unit activities, and include reflections on personal growth and development. Volunteers are also encouraged to write quarterly reports at the end of each quarter of the volunteer's term. Quarterly reports are given to the local leadership. Occasionally they may be used in further reporting or in newsletters. No item will be published without the VSer's consent. Quarterly reports will be considered confidential upon request.

End of Term Evaluation/Report:
Near the end of a volunteer's term of service, the local leadership will initiate an evaluation process/exit interview based on the end-of-term/final quarterly report form.

Re-entry After Service:
The local leadership and Unit members are encouraged to help each volunteer prepare for the transition from volunteer service to other involvements. The volunteer is encouraged to contact the home congregation, pastor, family members and friends for additional support and encouragement during this time of change.

MVSA Retreats:
An all-units retreat is held in the winter/spring of each year. All volunteers are expected to attend this retreat and all local leadership are invited to attend. Transportation costs for volunteers will be borne by the Unit. Location, dates and other details are determined by the Management Board.

In addition, Units may arrange for local weekend retreats and, with the approval of local leadership, Unit funds may be used for this purpose.

Style of Living:
Members of MVSA are expected to practice a style of living that is in keeping with principles of sound ecology, good health, and wise stewardship of resources. Sensitivity to the goals of the Unit, the local supporting congregation and the broader MVSA programs should be exercised. Consumption of food, alcohol, tobacco and drugs in a manner harmful to personal growth and group living, or which jeopardize the effectiveness of the service program and witness in the community, are unacceptable.

All relationships should reflect the style of life and work of Christian living. Volunteers are expected to give priority to their service assignments and Unit life above other relationships. Because an individual's behaviour and relationships so directly affect others in the household, volunteers should be willing to discuss those subjects openly with the local leadership and Unit members.

Time and energy given to establishing a serious dating relationship may detract from a volunteer's service assignment or unit life. Volunteers involved in a dating relationship must be committed first to the Unit, the local community, and then to each other. MVSA does not permit dating couples to live in the same unit house. Volunteers are expected to pursue a style of living that is ethical, chaste and caring.

Vehicles in Service:
MVSA views transportation as a justice issue. In wanting to identify with the poor it is essential that we face the discrepancy of access to transportation and the larger impact that operating a personal vehicle has on our world. With this in mind, MVSA has a general bias against vehicles in Units. MVSA recognizes the need for vehicles in some locations, especially in light of certain workplace partnerships.

Unit Vehicles:
Some MVSA Units have vehicles. Unit vehicles are available for travel to and from work, unit activities, local MVSA involvements, and limited personal use by volunteers. Volunteers are responsible to ensure good maintenance, cleaning, and repair work in consultation with the local leadership. Local sites establish guidelines for personal use of the vehicle that reflect MVSA philosophy towards vehicles noted above.

Personal Vehicles in Service:
Personal vehicles may be brought into MVSA only with the permission of, or upon the request of the local leadership. The Unit may cover operating costs (insurance, routine repairs, maintenance, gas and oil) if the vehicle is available for use by all members, subject to reasonable local guidelines. The person bringing the vehicle retains ownership of it and should oversee its use. No Unit is likely to need more than one vehicle under this category. This kind of arrangement requires the approval of the Unit and local leadership. A written memo should establish guidelines as to responsibility for costs, insurance and the disposal of vehicle. A copy should be given to the Management Board.

Personal vehicles will be reimbursed, based on the standard mileage rate set by Tax Canada for business use of an automobile for work-related or Unit-related travel. (Please note that the mileage rate paid may fluctuate.)

Volunteers are personally responsible for the cost of any traffic violations or accidents.

Personal Problems/Counseling:
It is natural that volunteers will at times have concerns and feelings they need to discuss confidentially. The place to secure this help may be within the unit, from local leadership, or from a trusted person within the sponsoring congregation or the community. It is important that volunteers find meaningful ways to express concerns and feelings. A special reference group for an individual volunteer may be established by the Unit and local leadership to work with a personal problem.

At times, a local person outside the MVSA circle may assist in this process. Individuals are encouraged to seek counseling when needed. In certain situations professional counseling may be arranged Prior approval must be obtained from the local leadership when costs to the Unit or MVSA program are incurred. The volunteer is not expected to share the cost of counseling for a diagnosed clinical mental illness, unless there is a pre-existing condition, in which case costs incurred are the responsibility of the volunteer.

Settling Disputes:
Matthew 18:15-17 (CEV) states: "If one of my followers sins against you, go and point out what was wrong. But do it in private, just between the two of you. If that person listens, you have won back a follower. But if that one refuses to listen, take along one or two others. The Scriptures teach that every complaint must be proven true by two or more witnesses. If the follower refuses to listen to them, report the matter to the church . . ."

Conflict Resolution
In line with the instructions of God's word, efforts to resolve conflict should take the following form:

Grievance Process
Once it has been decided that the grievance process shall be implemented, all parties are encouraged to maintain carefully documented records.

Step 1: If two or more parties are unable to achieve a mutually satisfactory solution through discussion, involved parties shall appoint a mutually agreed-upon mediator. MVSA encourages the use of local mediators. If no such person can be found or agreed upon, another person shall be selected with the input of the Management Board. The role of the mediator is to gather information and to make recommendations for resolution of the issue.

Step 2: If mediation is not successful, an ad hoc problem solving committee shall be formed. Each involved party shall select one representative. An additional, mutually agreed-upon committee person shall be appointed, who shall serve as mediator on the committee and will facilitate the problem solving process. The objective of this committee is to agree upon solution(s) to the issue at hand. This step is considered successful if all parties involved are reasonably satisfied with its outcome.

Step 3: If step two is unsuccessful, any involved party may appeal to the Management Board who will investigate the issue. Any decision made by the Management Board will be final.

Substance Use:
Use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs in a Voluntary Service household, or during one's Voluntary Service term of commitment is strictly prohibited. Violation of this policy will result in discipline, and may result in dismissal from the program.

Sexual Harassment:
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. If allegations of sexually harassing or abusive behaviour are made against a VSer local leadership will:

If a VSer makes allegations of sexually harassing or abusive behaviour against an individual in his/her service assignment or other context, the program will provide advocacy for the participant in following established protocol within the respective context.

Guidelines for dealing with offences: MVSA is committed to maintaining and restoring right relationships within the Unit and with others outside of the Unit. Substantiated disclosures of serious ethical offences, including acts of violence or possession of illegal drugs, will result in immediate suspension of the offending volunteer. The local leadership will be involved throughout the process. We believe God's Spirit will at times call people to acts of conscience considered illegal by the state. Such actions are in no way the focus of this policy. Experience has indicated that when violations occur, they are most likely to occur in the ethical areas listed below.

Violations that require address include, but are not limited to:

Guidelines for dealing with ethical offences in MVSA have been established. The document entitled Guidelines for Dealing with Offences in Mennonite Voluntary Service is available from the local leadership and should be carefully reviewed by every volunteer. In all matters related to ways of living and behaving, MVSA is committed to following Christ's example. Jesus is our model, not only in how we respond to the world's needs, but also in our personal behaviour.


Family Policies

Marriage/Married Couples:
Single volunteers are encouraged to postpone marriage until after completion of their service assignment. When a volunteer wishes to be married during a term of service, he/she should discuss the implications of this decision with the Unit and the local leadership before making definite plans.

Family Additions:
Although the decision to start or enlarge a family is generally a private matter, it will have a major effect on an MVS Unit. Couples are encouraged to postpone plans for having a child (or adopting) until after their terms of service. Couples are, therefore, expected to inform the local leadership of their plans in this regard prior to placement. MVSA covers the cost of birth preventatives for married couples.

In case of pregnancy during an MVS term, planned or otherwise, the couple's relationship to the program will be reviewed.

Couple's Time Out: MVSA recognizes that unit household living puts unusual demands on married couples. Couples are encouraged to seek enrichment for their marriage. This may be in the form of release time (i.e. time away from the household) or attendance at a program such as a marriage enrichment seminar. Interested couples should discuss these options with local leadership. In some locations, couples may live in housing apart from the rest of the MVS unit.

Finances and Financial Responsibility

All MVSA Unit funds are generated locally through agency stipends, through the pooling of funds from salaried positions, or through contributions and grants from congregations and other organizations. Each MVSA Unit should have at least one unit member and one person from local leadership who are authorized to do banking transactions.

Units are connected financially to the MVSA by monthly reporting. The MVSA's financial responsibility includes establishment of bookkeeping procedures, definition of allowable expenditures, and approval of the use of surplus monies for projects, additional personnel, or the general MVSA program. Audits of local unit treasuries should occur annually at the end of the VS tear. They may also be requested at any time.

Clothing is to be supplied by the volunteer during a two-year or shorter term. When special uniforms or a higher quality of clothing are required, the costs of these will be paid by the employer or the Unit. Volunteers serving longer than 24 months should discuss their long-term needs with the local leadership.

Volunteers may take advantage of educational resources for vocational and personal growth. Such involvements are, however, secondary to participation in unit life and effective time in one's position.

Special courses or seminars are the expense of the volunteer unless these are directly related to the performance in his/her position or service tasks. Payment for courses or seminars in the latter category can be arranged in several ways:

Use of Unit funds for education and training must be approved by the local leadership.

Educational/Recreational Allowance:
Each month, $14.50 per volunteer is available from Unit funds for group educational and/or recreational activities. Charges to this education/recreation fund should be a group decision and the majority of the group should participate in the activity. Other recreational activities are the expense of the volunteer and should come from their personal allowances. Under no circumstances should education/recreation money be given to an individual VSer to be spent as personal funds.

Educational Loan Assistance:
Special allowances or plans for school debt repayment will be considered on an individual basis for volunteers with student loans. The basic expectation is that volunteers will postpone payment on all loans while they are in MVS. If loans are deferred but interest continues to accrue, MVSA and local leadership will work with the volunteer in locating alternative methods for paying the interest during the term of service. In special situations where payment of principal cannot be postponed, MVSA will help locate assistance equal to the applicant's minimum loan repayment schedule. It is the intent of MVSA that a volunteer not leave MVS further in debt on student loans than when entering the program.

It is the volunteer's responsibility to care for and respond to deadlines for student loan related matters.

Food Spending Guidelines:
The MVSA programs view food as a justice issue and believe that how we eat and the dollars we spend for food affect the world around us. Volunteers should eat well while being conscious of how their food dollars are spent. For this reason, it is recommended that the Unit household's monthly spending for food should be in keeping with the following guidelines:
1-2 volunteers in unit: $90 per volunteer.
3-5 volunteer in unit: $80 per volunteer.
6 or more volunteers in unit: $65 per volunteer.

Personal Monthly Stipend:
Personal allowances paid to the volunteer from Unit funds should be used for personal expenses such as clothing, personal recreation, haircuts, shoe repair, repair of personal equipment, postage, and other expenses not covered by the Unit.

Monthly stipends may vary from Unit to Unit, according to local costs.

Special Costs:
Special costs for expenses such as nursing fees, license transfer fees, teacher fees, visa costs and other expenses that are incurred because of a volunteer's assignment will be reimbursed from Unit funds.

Supplemental Income:
MVSA calls people to identify with Jesus and stand with the poor and needy in the world. In the Canadian context this demands a move to a less consumptive life. With this in mind, MVSA challenges volunteers to commit to live within the monthly allowance guidelines provided by MVSA.

Independent Income:
Volunteers entering MVSA with income independent of MVSA are invited to share in their own support while in voluntary service. Since personal circumstances vary, such sharing is not mandatory. However, such income is not to be used to enhance the volunteer's lifestyle. It should be directed to savings until the end of the volunteer's term of service.

Volunteers who receive direct support from a congregation or group will have the money directed to the sponsoring congregation and designated for the specific volunteer unit.

Volunteers will not accept gifts of money from their church, friends or relatives. If such money is received, it will be given to the Unit, and if this creates an ongoing surplus or moves the unit outside of the MVSA monthly allowance guidelines, it will be turned over to the sponsoring congregation.

Performing services such as babysitting, speaking, house sitting, etc., are discouraged as this takes the volunteer away from community time with fellow volunteers. If income is received by the volunteer for performing such services, this becomes Unit income.

Transportation and moving: Travel to and from the assignment will be provided for the volunteer out of Unit funds if the length of service is one year or more.

Travel costs are to be at the least expensive mode available.

Volunteers travelling by car will receive 27 cents per kilometre, not exceeding alternative travel. (Please note that the mileage rate paid may fluctuate, as it is based on the standard mileage rate set by Tax Canada for business use of an automobile.) Reimbursement for volunteers who choose to travel by indirect routes or more expensive means will be limited to the cost of economical, direct transportation.

Return transportation costs for volunteers serving one year or more are paid according to the same pattern as travel to the assignment. Volunteers not returning to the location from which they entered service will be reimbursed for travel expenses to their new places of residence, not exceeding the amount spent for travel to the assignment.

Volunteers who go home after their assignments but intend to return to the city in which they served to live permanently will receive from the Unit up to one-half of the price of a round-trip ticket home, not exceeding the amount spent for travel to the assignment.

Persons who terminate their service assignments earlier than indicated on their Volunteer Covenants will NOT receive return transportation costs.

Moving expenses for household goods and personal possessions are not ordinarily covered by MVSA. Volunteers not living in Unit residences and for whom living essentials are not provided (e.g. linens, cookware, dishes, furniture) may be asked to bring personal items. In such cases volunteers may be reimbursed for the transportation of such items.

At times a prospective volunteer will be asked to make a Unit visit before placement. In this situations travel costs will be worked out among the local site, MVSA and the prospective volunteer.

Unit Finances:
In developing a new Unit, it is the responsibility of the local leadership to establish a minimum monthly cash balance to use as an operating fund, also called working cash balance.

Each MVS Unit will appoint a treasurer who will oversee finances, keep records and submit a monthly report of transactions to the local leadership. Bookkeeping procedures will be determined by the local leadership - computer program, traditional ledger, whatever.

Vacation and vacation allowances: Volunteers will receive two weeks of vacation per year. It is important that volunteers who have placements that allow them more flexibility of schedule or more vacation time than allowed by MVSA not take advantage of this. MVS expects the additional time to be spent on location, participating in MVS involvement in the community. The local neighbourhood/community is the primary home and focus for volunteers during a term of service. Lengthy times away from that environment can seriously detract from the fullness and integrity of the MVS experience.

For volunteers with a two-year or more commitment, an annual vacation allowance is paid from Unit funds, as follows:
- Second year: $130.
- Third and following years: $260.

Vacation allowances after the second year will be paid from Unit funds on a pro-rated basis when the final year of service encompasses less than 12 full months.

Medical – Dental – Ophthalmic

General Medical Care: Volunteers are required to have a thorough physical examination prior to joining an MVSA program. They should also have a general dental checkup, with any repair work done at that time. If a volunteer wears prescription glasses, an ophthalmic examination should also be undergone and new glasses obtained if necessary.

During their assignment term volunteers are encouraged to take care of themselves and seek medical treatment when signs or symptoms indicate.

Volunteers will be registered with the health service of the province in which they serve. Since terms and conditions vary among the provinces the local leadership will have the information that pertains to their unit. Volunteers from Germany are covered through Christliche Dienste and EREINE, although those serving through Christliche Dienste or EIRENE may also apply for Canadian Provincial Health Coverage depending on the province. Christliche Dienste and EIRENE will cover all medical, dental and optical needs that do not fall under provincial coverage.

Dental and Optical:
All volunteers are asked to practice good dental and optical care throughout their terms of service. If a dental or optical need arises within the first year, the volunteer must discuss this with the local leadership. MVSA covers one routine annual dental and optical visit/exam during the second and subsequent years of service. If the dental exam indicates a need for additional dental care - simple fillings for instance - this is covered by the MVSA. If the optical exam indicates the need for updated glasses, the lowest cost glasses will be covered. Additional cost for more expensive glasses will be at the expense of the volunteer. MVSA does not cover the cost of contact lenses. For those who serve a portion of a second year or more, the coverage as will be prorated. (For example, if a person serves 15 months and goes to the dentist after the 12th month, this plan will pay 25% of the expense.)

Pre-existing Conditions:
It is our desire to work with those who have a pre-existing health condition, if possible. In order to do so, MVSA will need a doctor's statement regarding the pre-existing conditions and/or a medical exam. If a medical exam is needed, it will be at the expense of the applicant.

MVSA will cover up to $100 per month on pre-existing conditions. If the medical expenses for pre-existing conditions are more than $100 a month, the local leadership and MVSA will explore with the volunteer ways of raising the support needed to cover these expenses.

Medical coverage is not provided for prenatal and delivery costs. Medical coverage does extend to the pattern of birth control that a married couple chooses.


Personal Property:
In the spirit of simple living, volunteers are encouraged to bring a limited amount of personal property to their locations of service. Realizing that items such as musical instruments, cameras, et cetera, can greatly enrich the volunteer experience, volunteers are encouraged to bring such items, but to guard their security judiciously.

In the event of theft, a claim can be made through the sponsoring congregation's insurance plan. The volunteer will be responsible for the deductible part of the settlement.

This covers the personal property of each volunteer if the property is in the MVSA house or transported for an MVSA related activity. It does not cover loss which is the result of neglect..

Professional Liability:
Each sponsoring church is responsible for professional liability coverage for their volunteers.