Social Justice | Spirituality | Community | Simplicity
“I learned with GSV to distinguish between wants and needs, and that I can easily draw happiness from things completely unconnected to material goods and consumption.”
Through personal commitment and creative use of resources, volunteers have the opportunity to develop a lifestyle that is socially and economically responsible.
Our US culture promotes consumerism and money, and volunteers are challenged to redefine their needs and live a conscientious lifestyle.
Volunteers receive a small but manageable living stipend. They are encouraged to find creative ways to live simply, such as saving electricity, re-using things, finding donated items, and pooling their money as a community. Also, many people in our network will likely give away generous amount of food to you – food is a big part of the Good Shepherd tradition!
Reflection on Simplicity
by the Astoria Community, New York City ‘09-10
GSV Volunteers in New York City
Living in New York City with a monthly income of approximately $289 is no easy endeavor. Museums, cafes, night clubs, shops, and countless other—needless to say, expensive—opportunities can lead us astray from our ultimate goal of living simply. Thus, as volunteers, we are challenged to live intentionally amid constant distractions and remain aware of our daily decisions, who they affect, and whether our ideals are in tune with our behavior.
For our Community Night this past Tuesday, Nelly and Mary led an exercise which asked us to reflect on and share our simplicity definitions; choose something to work on in the next week in order to live a simpler life; and create a week-long challenge to be undertaken by another community member. Below are the results for each of our community members and some personal reflections.
Here are a couple reflections from our community members Nelly and Justin:
Nelly: “I thought simple living meant living within my stipend, but I have come to see it is so much more than that. And it only makes it so much harder! I was not one to think about who is affected by how long I take in the shower or what choices I make when shopping. Being that I love to shop, I thought I could live simply by just refraining from shopping a lot and that’s it. But this week my challenge was to conserve water and limit my shower time to 7 minutes. I realized I really like long showers and I leave the water running when brushing my teeth. This was a great challenge for me to get, and I think I’m handling it pretty well. I’ll take this challenge over Justin’s challenge any day! :-)”
Justin: “For me, simple living means breaking away from technology that we don’t necessarily need. For me, it’s very easy to spend a few hours a day in front of a screen between the computer, the TV, and my cell phone. So in my life I have to make a very concerned and dedicated effort to live simply in order to break away from screens. I know this tenet will be tough for me. The challenge I got was- I can only spend 15 minutes a day on my phone and 15 minutes a day on my computer, so writing this is actually taking up some of my time. Haha. This will be really hard for me.”