By Niamh Lynch

Dave Sheehan

If you should stop into the IIIC on a Monday or Tuesday, there’s a good chance that the first person you speak to will be volunteer Dave Sheehan. Dave took early retirement last year from his position with the UMass Tech Transfer Group. Before that, he spent 12 years at the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, where he was responsible for securing equity investment for high-tech businesses.

He recently decided the time was right for him to take a step back and to make the switch to part-time consultancy work. Like many in this position, Dave felt that the transition to part-time work would be easier if his life included some structure, and a commitment to be at a certain place at a certain time each week. As he says himself, “there’s only so much golf.”

Dave and his wife Jeanne were already regular volunteers at a Quincy homeless shelter called Fr. Bill’s Place, and he was interested in exploring what other volunteering options were out there. That’s when he discovered the Ignatian Volunteer Corps. The IVC describes its mission as providing “men and women aged 50 and greater opportunities to serve others, to address social injustice, and to transform lives.”

The program places individuals at local non-profits for a period of one year, in which they typically volunteer for two days per week. Dave and his fellow program participants meet monthly to share their experiences and to discuss the ways in which working for social justice can be part of continued personal development. Nobody expects to change the world, he says, “but bit by bit you can do your part.”

Dave’s part is making sure that clients and callers to the Irish International Immigrant Center receive a warm welcome and assistance in finding the right service to address their needs. He particularly enjoys this front-end interaction he says, because it is a constant reminder that rather than just working in any office, he is part of a team working on important issues of social justice. For Dave, the math works out pretty well. “I get more from the people here than I give to them,” he says.

There are many short and long-term volunteer opportunities at the IIIC, says Ally Tzovaras, the Center’s Information and Volunteer Coordinator, and all are welcome, whether they come in as individuals or through an organization like IVC. While volunteerism has traditionally been more prevalent among college-age individuals, she explains, there has been an upswing among retired and semi-retired people who are interested in both staying active and staying involved. In fact, Tzovaras says the center is particularly receptive to this type of volunteer, “because, like Dave, they bring a huge amount to the table in terms of expertise and perspective.”

The IIIC is grateful to Dave Sheehan and to all its volunteers who continue to give their time and energy in support of Boston’s immigrants. For more information on volunteering at the IIIC, please contact Ally Tzovaras at atzovaras@iiicenter.org or 617-542-7654, ext. 43. For more information on the Ignatian Volunteer Corps please email newengland@ivcusa.org.