Below are frequently asked questions and answers for prospective short-term and long-term volunteers:
Contact Info/About CAP
How can I reach someone in the Volunteer Program if I have questions?
Are you affiliated with any particular Christian denomination or church?
Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) is an interdenominational Christian organization. We are an independent nonprofit primarily funded by individual donors and churches rather than a particular denomination. Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and are invited to participate in regular spiritual and/or personal reflection. Volunteers are not required to be Christian and openness to diversity is essential for community life.
Does CAP foster a “simple” lifestyle?
CAP strives to practice good stewardship in the volunteer houses and in our programs, and encourages volunteers to be conscientious about their use of CAP resources, understanding that everything CAP provides to volunteers is funded by donor generosity. All volunteer communities are expected to follow a modest food budget based on community size.
About volunteering with CAP
Who volunteers for CAP?
We are blessed to have volunteers from all age groups — from young people just out of high school, to people in mid-career, to retirees, and everyone in between. Our volunteers come from all over the United States and from many different backgrounds, professions, and experiences. Their commonality is that they feel called to serve in Appalachia and are attracted to the values of Community and Spirituality and/or personal reflection.
How long is the commitment?
We ask short-term volunteers to commit a minimum of three weeks of service. Long-term volunteers serve one year initially, with an opportunity to apply for a second year. Our summer camp volunteers typically make a commitment of 3-9 weeks. We also have one-week opportunities for groups of three or more.
Is it possible to serve for one or two weeks?
We understand that many people are not in a position to give three weeks at a time; however, the types of responsibilities CAP volunteers take on, the training involved, the time it takes to review applications and place volunteers, and the impact short-term volunteers have on the continuity of our volunteer communities all necessitate a commitment of at least three weeks. Our short-term volunteer opportunities are for people desiring a similar commitment to Service, Community, and Spirituality that our long-term volunteers take on, and our experience tells us that volunteers cannot get the full CAP volunteer experience in a 1 or 2-week commitment. We would be happy to speak with you and connect you with other Eastern Kentucky organizations who accept one-week volunteers if a CAP placement does not feel right for you.
Exceptions to the three-week minimum would be nurses with a Kentucky or compact state license who are available for summer camp, skilled construction volunteers who can serve as WorkFest or YouthFest assistant crew leaders in March and April, and volunteer alumni. Prospective volunteers desiring a one-week commitment should contact the office about the opportunities above or consider forming a group.
I am ready to make a lifelong commitment to volunteering with CAP. Is that possible?
It is important for applicants to understand that a long-term volunteer commitment is one way in which to live your call to serve others, but it is not the only or final way to dedicate yourself to the Christian life. Long-term volunteers are initially accepted for a one-year commitment. Many CAP volunteers feel they have more to give and more to grow after one term of service, and volunteers seeking a second year may apply for another term as they approach the end of their service year. A second term is granted if Volunteer Program staff and the volunteer determine that another term would be mutually beneficial to CAP and the volunteer.
Is there an upper age limit on volunteers?
No. One of the unique qualities of CAP volunteer life is the age diversity among our volunteers. CAP recognizes the unique gifts, knowledge, and experience that “encore career” volunteers have to offer, and 30% of our long-term volunteers are 50 or older.
Can I volunteer with my spouse? My significant other? My children?
We encourage married couples to serve with us. Both individuals must complete separate applications and be accepted. Unmarried or engaged couples are welcome to apply and serve with us, but they may not live in the same volunteer house. We cannot accommodate short-term, summer camp, or long-term volunteers with dependent children. Families with children age 14 or older may inquire about serving for a week as a group.
Can I bring my pet with me?
Unfortunately, pets are incompatible with community living, and leaving pets behind is one sacrifice that many volunteers make. Volunteers with pets may not live in community, but they may choose our Independent Living option and secure their own housing.
Applying to be a CAP volunteer
What are you looking for in a volunteer?
We are seeking compassionate, self-starting, fast-learning, independent, and mission-driven individuals who possess an exceptional amount of flexibility, maturity, interpersonal skills, and openness to people — both participants and fellow volunteers — who may be very different from themselves. Moreover, we’re looking for volunteers who are passionate about serving people who are marginalized and living in poverty, and are ready to fully immerse themselves in their service and community. Many of our long-term volunteer positions require someone who can drive a CAP vehicle. Because we require our drivers to be 21 or older, our ideal candidate for long-term service placements is 21 or older with a valid driver’s license and a good driving record. We will consider exceptional applicants ages 18-20 as we do have a limited number of positions available to non-drivers.
Most of our volunteer positions do require a moderate to extensive amount of physical activity and lifting 20–80 pounds. Some positions also require an extensive amount of driving on rural roads. Please contact us to discuss any concerns you may have about our service requirements.
Do I have to apply by a certain date? How long does the application process take?
Individuals interested in a year of service should visit our Admissions Timeline for application, interview, and entry details. Short-term volunteers (10 months or less) should submit a completed application (including references) at least one month prior to their desired start date.
May I submit my resume?
A resume can be a wonderful supplement to the application, but you may not submit a resume in lieu of an application.
My pastor does not know me very well. Whom else may I use as a reference?
We offer several suggestions for individuals to choose as references, but we value the input of anyone who can recommend you for service and speak to your suitability to serve in an organization that values Service, Community, and Spirituality. We prefer that you do not ask immediate family or boyfriends/girlfriends to serve as references, and we ask that only one reference be from a personal friend.
I saw something about the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Will you do a credit check on me?
No. We check your criminal history and perform a sex offender search before extending an invitation for a personal interview or a final offer of admission. If you are applying for a position that requires driving, we will also check your driving history.
How likely is it that I will be accepted?
We have a thorough application process, which includes a national background check and input from three references. Submitting an application does not guarantee acceptance. Once the Volunteer Program and the appropriate program manager(s) review your application, our admissions coordinator will contact you to discuss your application and the program placement you are most interested in. Promising long-term applicants will be invited to interview with our staff in the Volunteer office as well as with several program managers. We feel that it is for your benefit so that you can make the right decision about your service. Following your interview, you and CAP will reflect upon your interview to ensure a mutual match.
How can I afford to volunteer?
Volunteering for an extended period of time is a significant sacrifice for many people, but CAP is able to provide some resources to make volunteering more affordable. We offer room and board to all individual volunteers, and for our yearlong AmeriCorps members, an AmeriCorps Education Award (up to $4,266), health insurance, travel reimbursement, and a bi-weekly stipend of $115. While volunteers are welcome to bring their personal vehicles, CAP provides transportation to and from service sites for volunteers who live in community.
Can I defer my student loans?
In most cases, yes. Volunteers need to request deferment forms from their lending agency and then turn them in to the Volunteer office for validation. Deferment is the choice of the provider, but most CAP volunteers are able to defer federal student loans. We also encourage prospective volunteers to explore income-driven repayment options, which may be a better option than deferment or forbearance for many people.
Do you offer health insurance for volunteers?
Long-term CAP volunteers are eligible for health benefits. Volunteers who elect to keep existing insurance are eligible for reimbursement of their premium costs of up to a certain amount and are encouraged to keep existing insurance to provide a continuity of coverage after your service ends.
Will I be taxed on my stipend, room and board, etc.?
All cash and non-cash income long-term volunteers receive is taxable and may be subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes. Please contact us for more information.
May I find a job in the area while volunteering?
CAP volunteers may not be employed in the community while volunteering because of their commitments to their service position and community life.
Life at CAP
What exactly is community living?
Currently, CAP has six volunteer houses located throughout Eastern Kentucky. All houses have shared living room space, kitchen, and laundry facilities. Living in community means more than simply sharing living space: it is an intentional commitment to sharing time together. Volunteer communities share dinner and devotion four nights a week, and all volunteers are invited to participate.
What exactly is independent living?
Most CAP volunteers live in community at the volunteer houses, although some volunteers choose to find their own housing near their service site. CAP offers an Independent Living option for volunteers who prefer to live on their own, typically for those who are 50 years old or older and/or are married. This option includes a modest living allowance in addition to the stipend. Independent Living volunteers are responsible for locating their own housing and must have transportation to their service sites. Please call the Volunteer Program to learn more.
What do volunteers do for fun?
In their free time, many volunteers go hiking, attend local concerts and festivals, and explore nearby towns. CAP is surrounded by the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, which offer plenty of opportunities for camping and other outdoor activities. There are also two volunteer retreats and several social gatherings throughout the year. CAP’s volunteer communities are relatively close to one another, so houses often plan their own social activities together.
What should I bring with me?
All volunteer houses are fully furnished, including bedding and towels. Though space is limited, volunteers are encouraged to bring books, music, and other personal items. A complete list of items to bring will be sent to all volunteers upon acceptance into the program.
I am a vegetarian, a vegan, gluten-intolerant, etc. Can CAP accommodate my dietary needs?
Volunteers with food allergies or other dietary needs should be aware that they may be living with people unfamiliar with their needs and how to cook for them. It is important for volunteers to take the time to communicate their needs to their housemates and offer recipes or to help with cooking. All volunteers need to be understanding and accommodating of fellow volunteers with special dietary needs.
Life after CAP
What do volunteers do after serving with CAP?
Because CAP volunteers are diverse in terms of age and background, their paths after their term of service vary. Some go to grad school, some join or reenter the workforce, while others begin or continue their retirement. CAP alumni work in a wide variety of career fields, the most popular being education, human services, and health science.
What kind of support does CAP offer to volunteer alumni?
The CAP Volunteer Alumni Network seeks to connect our more than 2,000 active former volunteers to CAP and to each other through a newsletter and networking groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Our Alumni page provides information about all of the services available to volunteer alumni.
More questions? Give us a call at 606-256-0973 or 800-755-5322 or click Contact Us. We’d love to hear from you.