Mercy Ships celebrates National Volunteer Week…California Style

by April 11, 2011

Garden Valley, Texas – National Volunteer Week is extremely important to Mercy Ships, a global medical charity focused on health-related issues. Mercy Ships flagship, the Africa Mercy, is the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship and is staffed with 450 crew members – who serve as paying volunteers.


“We have a unique model.  Without the faithful service of our volunteers and those who support them, we would not exist today,” says Mercy Ships President and Founder Don Stephens.

Mercy Ships volunteer crew come from more than 40 nations, working together to serve the poor of West Africa and other developing countries.  This year during National Volunteer Week, Mercy Ships highlights the state of California, the most represented state among the United States crew members onboard the Africa Mercy.

“I was surprised and proud to learn that California was the one state in the U.S. with the most Mercy Ships volunteers,” says Paris Ivory, Hospital Ward Secretary. “What an honorable recognition!” Ivory is one of 20 volunteers from California currently serving with Mercy Ships in Sierra Leone.

Mercy Ships accepts professional volunteers who want to use their skill to serve the forgotten poor in West Africa. The ship is staffed with world-class surgeons, ophthalmologists, maritime professionals, engineers, nurses, teachers, cooks, writers, photographers, and sales staff—just to name a few. It functions as a floating city so there is an opportunity for every skill set. Each volunteer is there to help transform lives through surgeries, dental care, mental health education, agriculture instruction and other programs.

Ivory worked as a consultant for Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California before quitting her job to join Mercy Ships in West Africa. She has always had a passion for serving others. Volunteering is not just a hobby for her – she wanted to weave it into her life. That’s why she is spending a little over five months without pay to serve the forgotten poor onboard the Africa Mercy.

Ivory searched extensively for a volunteer opportunity where she could impact others. Mercy Ships quickly rose to the top of her list.  “Mercy Ships was hands-down the one that aligned with my core values as a Christian as well as my passions for healthcare and serving the poor and needy. Serving Mercy Ships allows me to blend both of my passions in service for the Lord.”

Shifting from a steady career in a bustling metropolitan area to a volunteer job in a developing country is not something considered typical. But Mercy Ships sees it every day. The most recent study from the Corporation for National and Community Service shows that the national volunteer rate is the highest it has been since 2005 at 26.8%. The increase in Americans volunteering is a trend enthusiastically welcomed by the team of international recruiters for Mercy Ships.

“When more people seek out volunteer work, our job gets a little easier,” says Angie Fadely, International Director of Recruiting at Mercy Ships. “It’s a privilege to place our volunteers in positions that literally transform the lives of those who are suffering.”

The Californians onboard the Africa Mercy were surprised and excited to hear that they were the most-represented state in the US.  Ivory thinks this is good news for California, as “there are many causes that Californians support – from environmental to fighting cancer – and it’s nice to see 20 people who have made a tremendous sacrifice to support a cause that Christ was very passionate about, the forgotten poor.  Just one of the added perks is we get back just as much joy as the happiness we provide to those we serve.”

ABOUT NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK: Established in 1974, National Volunteer Week has grown exponentially in scope each year since. National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about taking action, encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change – discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to foster positive transformation.

ABOUT MERCY SHIPS:MercyShips uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world.  Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $834 million, impacting more than 2.9 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,200 volunteers from over 40 nations.  Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort.  Mercy Ships seeks to become the face of love in action, bringing hope and healing to thepoor.For more information click on

If you are interested in volunteering with Mercy Ships, please email us at


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