Questions and Answers about the 75,000 Service Hours:
What are some specific examples of direct service that is eligible to be counted?
Everything from serving meals at a homeless shelter to coaching little league to tutoring school children to mowing your elderly neighbor's lawn counts as direct service, as long as you're not being paid to do it. In general, if you are giving freely of your time and talent to serve others, count the hours.
What kind of direct service is not eligible?
If you're being paid for your time, even if working at a homeless shelter is your job, we can't count those hours. If you're freely volunteering your time at an organization that does not provide direct service to the disadvantaged, the Church, or the community, we can't count those hours.
What about direct service provided to relatives?
If you care for your elderly parent or other needy relative in your home, God bless you. In some cases, such care can amount to a 24-hour-a-day commitment. But for the purposes of the 75,000 Hours Commitment, those hours cannot be counted.
Can I count all my volunteer activities at church?
Yes, if those activities provide service to others; Eucharistic Ministers to the Sick, Religious Education teachers, youth chaperones, Christian Service volunteers, Volunteers in the Homeless Ministry. Holy Name, Knights of Columbus and Women’s Society Members may count hours spent hosting, cooking, serving and providing aid to the parish.
What about my public-policy advocacy activities?
In general, public-policy advocacy should not be counted as service, whether you're campaigning for passage of a particular law, or campaigning for a political candidate or party. For example, marching in the March for Life can certainly be a powerful witness, and could be seen as a form of service to victims of abortion, but the purpose of the march itself is to advocate for changing public policy. Therefore, marching in it should not be counted as service hours. However, if you provide the direct service of hospitality to people who are marching in the March for Life, those hours can be counted.
Similarly, demonstrating outside an abortion clinic does not count as service; working at or raising money for a pregnancy counseling center does. Taking part in an anti-death-penalty protest does not count as service hours; visiting people in prison does. Making phone calls to rally voter support for or opposition to some proposed legislation does not count as service; volunteering at your local polling place does.
Can I report Sacred Heart Hours in advance?
We'd prefer that you wouldn't. Despite the best of intentions, circumstances might prevent you from carrying out the service you had planned. So please report only completed hours of service.
Can I report hours for people other than myself?
Yes, if you are doing so with their knowledge and consent. Some service leaders might want to report hours for a group of people who worked together on a project. That's fine. If you are doing that, it would be best if you could report each person's hours separately with names. But if it's too much of a hassle to report each volunteer's hours separately, you can report a total for the group. (A note about that in the "Service Performed" field would be helpful.)
What about priests and religious? Can they count their entire lives as service to the Church?
Well, yes and no. But only the hours of service for which neither they nor their religious communities are being paid can be counted as part of the 75,000 Hours Commitment.
Is there a general rule of thumb to determine what counts as service and what doesn't?
Ultimately, we are putting our trust in the good judgment and consciences of the members of the St. Margaret Mary community to consider the spirit of these guidelines and decide whether their activities should be counted as service hours or not.