I don’t have a driver’s license. Can I still apply to be an Innisfree volunteer?

Yes, you can still apply to Innisfree if you don’t have a driver’s license. However, the community needs a certain number of volunteers who are cleared to drive in order to take coworkers to medical appointments, on outings, to grocery shop, etc. Also, volunteers who do not drive have found it challenging since they must rely on others for transportation on their days off and for their personal wants and need.

Do all licensed volunteers qualify to drive and use Innisfree cars?

In order to drive Innisfree vehicles, a volunteer must go through a car orientation and take a driving test with a member of the Innisfree Village car committee. In order to be considered eligible to drive Innisfree vehicles, a volunteer must have a clean driving record as well as at least one year’s experience of driving.

What is the training like?

The first month for a volunteer is a “trial period.” During the trial period, volunteers rotate through the workstations, learn the routines for house management and coworker care in the house where they have been placed, and receive a variety of trainings that include First Aid and CPR, how to respond in case of an emergency, the history of Innisfree, community policies, etc.

Is there public transportation available to and from Innisfree? In Charlottesville?

Village drivers may provide access to and from Crozet and Charlottesville, but there is no public transportation between Innisfree Village and Charlottesville. Within the city of Charlottesville, there is local bus service. Furthermore, Charlottesville is serviced by the Amtrak train as well as by Greyhound bus service. The Charlottesville-Albemarle airport is about a 35 minute drive from Innisfree Village.

How much time will I be spending in workstations?

Volunteers are generally off either Friday/Saturday, or Sunday/Monday. Since there are not workstations on Tuesday, this means volunteers most often spend three days a week in the workstations, or a total of about fifteen hours (9 am – 3 pm, with an hour lunch break for three days).

What do I need to bring with me if I volunteer?

Rooms are furnished with beds, a dresser, etc so volunteers do not need to bring furniture. The houses are also stocked with linens, kitchenware, and other household items so volunteers need not bring these, either. We recommend volunteers bring comfortable clothes and shoes appropriate for four seasons, as it is usually hot and humid in the summer and cold (and sometimes snowy) in the winter in Virginia, as well as whatever personal items you would like to make your room feel homey. The rooms vary in size and it is best not to bring too many personal items as storage space is not available in the village.

I’m interested in making more than a one year commitment to Innisfree. How does that work?

We ask all volunteers to make a one year commitment. If a volunteer is interested in extending their time, after they have been here ten months we ask them to write a proposal for the community to consider. After gathering community input, the volunteer application committee meets to decide on the proposal. We do value having longer-term volunteers at Innisfree.

Do you accept international volunteers? How do I obtain a visa?

Once a volunteer has applied and been accepted, Innisfree sends paperwork for that volunteer to take to the US embassy in their country to ask for a B visa to be granted for one year. If the request is denied by the embassy, unfortunately there is nothing Innisfree can do to appeal or assist in changing the embassy’s decision. It is our experience that volunteers from outside Europe or Korea are most often not able to attain the visa necessary to come for one year.

Do you have a recommended reading list for people interested in volunteering?

The Innisfree website is the best place to get information specifically about Innisfree. In terms of books about people with disabilities, a few good titles include: Being Human by Jean Vanier (on the spiritual side), Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin (also a movie), Riding the Bus With My Sister by Rachel Simon (also a movie).

What should I know to prepare for my visit?

During a potential volunteer visit, you will most likely spend time in several workstations as well as in one or more of our community houses. Please bring comfortable work clothes and shoes. Ask questions and introduce yourself to people, and follow the lead of the volunteers in how they interact with coworkers. Please do not tell coworkers that you will be coming back as a volunteer unless you have already applied and been accepted are absolutely certain that you will be coming to join the community. Be yourself.

Do you have wireless internet in your houses?

Yes, each Innisfree house has Wi-Fi. Details about responsible internet use and passwords are administered during each volunteer’s trial period.

Can I come with my dogs/cats/other pets?

No, we do not consider volunteer applicants who want to come with pets.

What kind of personal care are Innisfree volunteers expected to provide?

Coworkers require different levels of personal care. During a year at Innisfree, a volunteer will most likely be asked to assist coworkers in bathing, dressing, toileting, shaving, and toothbrushing. Training is provided, and volunteers are not expected to assume these responsibilities right away. However, volunteers are expected to have a willingness to learn and perform these skills.

How many hours does a volunteer work each day?

Since Innisfree Village is a lifesharing setting where life and work are woven together, it is different from a job which involves punching a time clock and where there is a strict separation between work and life. For most volunteers a day “on” begins between 7:30 and 8 am with giving medication, making breakfast, assisting in personal care, etc, followed by workstations from 9 am – 3 pm. After workstations are over, a volunteer may attend a meeting some days, or return home to help prepare dinner, or spend time with the coworkers in the house – watching a movie, playing a game, or chatting over a cup of tea.

Do I need to bring a personal car as an Innisfree volunteer?

No, you do not need to bring a personal car, but you are welcome to. The benefit of bringing a personal car is that it provides a volunteer with freedom and mobility, and the drawback is the expense of maintenance, insurance, gas, etc. If a volunteer uses a personal car for community use (eg taking a coworker to a medical appointment, out shopping, etc) they will be monetarily reimbursed for it.

What are you looking for in volunteer applicants?

In our experience, the most successful volunteers possess the following: patience, a desire to live in community in a rural setting, sense of humor, compassion, positive attitude, ability to work as part of a team, good communication skills, and an ability to deal with conflict in a mature manner. It is a plus if a volunteer applicant has experience working with people with disabilities, or with one of the workstation areas (baking, gardening, woodworking, etc) but not a requirement.

What can you do for fun out in a rural setting?

Volunteers often get together in the evenings to watch movies, play games, make music, or simply sit around a chat in one of the houses or around a campfire. Our natural setting provides lots of opportunities for those who enjoy hiking, walking, running, biking, or other outdoor activities.