SJW Staff Spotlight: Our Jesuit Volunteer (JV) Tom McDevitt

SJW has been fortunate to be a part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) program for several years. Given our Catholic roots, we continue to have an important relationship with the Catholic church and the many charitable efforts they have always undertaken on behalf of the most disadvantaged individuals in our community. Each August, we welcome a new college graduate as a JVC, who will be with us for 12 months. They are individuals who have chosen to work with SJW, who are interested in our mission, and in learning – firsthand – our brand of service to the poor and homeless. This past August, we were introduced to a young man by the name of Tom McDevitt. He has worked side by side with our Human Services Campus team under the tutelage of our Lead Employment Specialist, Ruben Myers. Tom has grown and blossomed with SJW over the past year. But at the end of July, sadly, he will leave us to move onto his “next big thing.” Something we know for sure – the world is a better place because Tom is in it. We look forward to seeing what he does next, and know that he will continue to serve regardless of what that ends up being. This is Tom.

I was born and raised in Drexel Hill, PA, a small town outside of Philadelphia. For my undergraduate degree, I attended Immaculata University and majored in Theology. (Go Mighty Macs!) It was there that I learned about the JVC. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after graduation (and having a degree about Jesus didn’t seem to help), so I pursued the JVC – an opportunity to learn more about the world and my place in it. 

An old JVC motto is “Ruined for life.” I am certainly “ruined for life” in the best possible ways after my year with SJW! I simply can’t go back to old ways of thinking, doing, and being. Working at SJW has challenged me, yet also strengthened my deeply held conviction that people are made good —made with good, and for good. … People are good, very good! I discovered that this “good” may be dusted over by mental illness, addiction, dire circumstances, stress, and trauma; but the good is always there, shining like the sun, all the time. I feel grateful every day that I can go to a place devoted to making people realize their own goodness, their own abilities and capabilities, their own self-worth. Working with people experiencing homelessness is humbling, slow work, but I stand in awe at how gracefully our clients carry their burdens and manage a smile, a kind word, a night shift. 

Fun fact about Tom: He and younger brother, Luke, are great lovers of Jazz, and “the biggest Chet Baker (American Jazz trumpeter and vocalist) fans in the history of the universe.” … Tom, we love you and will miss you! We look forward to your future. Thank you for being part of the team this past year!

About the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC): The Jesuit Volunteer Corps is a service year program for recent college graduates. The JVC is an International organization. About 250 Jesuit Volunteers (JVs) serve each year. JVs live by Four Vore Values: Social Justice, Spirituality, Simple Living, and Community. JV housemates live together in a service area for their year, sharing meals and experiences, helping one another and living in communion.