Mission Statement: The PV Volunteers are an ecumenical community of diverse individuals. By providing a service experience in a variety of settings, we respond to human need, form relationships and encourage change and growth both in ourselves and with those we serve.

Visit our website to find out more: www.pvprogram.org

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mini PV Reunion in North Jersey

This past weekend there was a mini impromptu reunion of PVs in Clark, NJ. It is always a great time when PVs are able to connect during the year. Both young and not quite as young gathered together and enjoyed what looks to be an awesome cake!

If this reunion makes you long for time with your PV family, remember the official PV Evaluaiton/Reunion Weekend will be taking place October 10-12 in Lavallette, NJ. If you are planning on coming, please RSVP by October 1st. We would love to see you there!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thank You, Aurora

Thank You

We wanted to send a big THANK YOU to all the organizations that we worked with during our week in Aurora. The collaboration between all of these agencies is quite impressive. Please take the time and read about these amazing organizations by following the links to their webpages:

Hesed House - Hesed House's mission is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and give people the chance to hope again. Hesed House is a national model for ending homelessness – one person, one family at a time. It is the culmination of nearly three decades of strategic evolution from a formerly acceptable model of "eats and sheets" to a Comprehensive Homeless Resource Center – a campus of centralized highly skilled professionals collaborating to provide the tools necessary to help individuals and families break free of the shackles binding them to homelessness.

Emmanuel House - Emmanuel House CDC is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping working-class families save and work their way out of poverty in a responsible & dignified manner. In close collaboration with our partner organizations, qualified families are selected and subsequently given the opportunity to live in one of our apartments – usually for about 18 months. Families pay market rate rent just as they would anywhere else, but by leveraging a variety of created and existing resources, an entire year's rent (usually about $10,000) is channeled into each family’s savings to provide a down-payment on their first home thereby eliminating the primary and often sole barrier—the ability to save a down-payment—to home ownership.

My Father's Hands - My Fathers Hands is a non-profit organization working within the Fox Valley area.  My Father's Hands mentor at-risk workers by teaching them general construction skills using a hands on approach.  The projects we work on include safety repairs on the homes of local senior and disabled community members, as well as, collaborating with other non-profit organizations on larger construction projects.

World Relief - World Relief began offering services in DuPage County in 1979 and then opened an additional office in Aurora in 1999. We are a Christ-centered organization that partners with local churches and works with hundreds of individuals and community groups to offer a comprehensive range of services to refugees and immigrants living in DuPage and Kane Counties.

St. Rita of Cascia Catholic Church - A vibrant multi-cultural parish in Aurora, IL. Built in the 1950’s St. Rita’s has beautiful grounds and buildings that the PVs helped to spruce up.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Saturday Morning in Aurora and a Few More Pictures

Before we all headed out to return to our respective homes and lives, we gathered one final time on Saturday morning to take part in the fundraiser "Hike for Hesed." The event raised money to help support all the wonderful programs that Hesed House is able to provide to the people of the greater Aurora area. The weather was a little chilly for the hike, with temperatures in the low 40's and a wind chill in the 30's, but the spirit of the participants, including the PVs was evident despite the cool temperatures. I've included a couple of pictures from the hike as well as additional pictures from the week that were generously shared with with us. Thanks again for a great week for all those that participated and for those that supported from afar!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Painting, Glazing, Painting and Saying Goodbye

Today was the last day in what was a fantastic week in Aurora. Before we headed out to our sites, we were given a tour of the World Concern and Emmanuel House offices that are in the spot that last year we helped to gut in preparation for these two great organizations having more space. It has really been an amazing transformation since last year and was great to see all the activity that was going on inside those walls.

For sites today, we had volunteers paint at Hesed House, glaze windows at St. Rita's and paint an apartment that is part of Emanuel House's transitional housing program. It was a great last day, despite the fact that it was a rather chilly last day.

To celebrate the end to a great week, we had pizza for dinner and tried to finish all of our leftovers from the week. Nothing better than enjoying a meal for a second time!

As always, we end the week with a closing prayer service, a time to reflect on the week and how we are going to take our experiences with us as we re enter into our day to day lives back home. One theme that came back up time and time again was hospitality. Both the hospitality of those we worked for and with at service sites and the hospitality of our hosts, Susan and Bruce. What an example to all.

Early next week we will post more pictures from the week for you to enjoy, but in the meantime, we want to thank everyone who made this week possible: the volunteers, Bruce and Susan and everyone in Aurora that made us feel so comfortable including those at Hesed House, St. Rita's and World Concern.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Painting, Moving,Teaching, Glazing and Painting

There was a sudden and noticeable drop in temperature this morning as we set out for our day. Temperatures pretty much stayed in the low 50's for the day making it a cold one for outside work. Speaking of outside work, we returned to St. Rita's to finish up painting the wood work around the stained glass panels around the church and continued to re-glaze as many windows as we were able to. Volunteers are getting in the groove of glazing and the process is moving along.

Volunteers went to the ESL tutoring again this morning working with newly arrived refugees helping them learn functional English and English phrases. By all reports it has been a wonderful experience for all the volunteers involved.

Hesed House welcomed two volunteers for the day again, this time doing a lot of different activities, helping wherever was needed. They helped move offices, they carried boxes, served lunch, painted, you name it, they did it today.

Because of the chilly fall like day, for dinner we were treated to a yummy chilli dinner. It really helped to warm you up. Not only did we have chili, we had rice krispie treats for dessert! Who could ask for anything more really?

Tonight's reflection was spent reflecting on things we learned and were inspired by this week. There were so many to chose from, but it was good to hear everyone's favorite.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Painting, Laundry, Serving, Teaching and Painting

Storms rolled in overnight and we awoke to a pretty hard and steady rain. Needless to say we would only be working indoors today.

We went to the same three places today as yesterday, ESL tutoring, painting at St. Rita's and back to Hesed House. Besides continuing the painting at HH, volunteers helped residents with the laundry for the house, sheets used overnight, and helped to serve lunch to the guests.

To top off the busy day, we decided to take the train into Chicago as a community to take in the sites for the evening. We were able to sample a slice of Chicago and what it offers going to the Chicago Board of Trade, Grant Park and the Navy Pier. A great time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Painting, Building, Teaching, Driving and Painting

We awoke to a few showers in the morning, but for the most part it ended up being another beautiful sunny day in Aurora. Once again we were spread out throughout the town doing a variety of service activities. Volunteers went back to St. Rita's to work, but because of the moist weather they couldn't continue to glaze the windows, so instead they painted meticulously around the stained glass wall of windows on the outside of the chapel. They also painted a bit inside of the rectory. They highlight of the day though was not the work, but sitting and talking to a couple of the parishioners about their life stories.

Volunteers also went back to Hesed House, but this time there was painting to be done in two offices and assembling a crib for one of the families in the transitional housing unit. In the afternoon two of volunteers drove a HH client to a dental appointment a couple of towns over. The dental clinic provides dental services free of charge to many HH clients, a wonderful and much needed service.

The new activity for the day was sending a couple of volunteers to help with ESL classes that are being provided to refugees by World Relief. World Relief's goal is "to empower the local Church to serve the most vulnerable, and to see refugees, immigrants and members of their communities become fully-functioning, integrated participants in society." There were many nationalities represented in the two classes that the volunteers helped with, all eager to learn the language of their new home.

After a few obstacles, like not checking to see if there was propane for the grill ahead of time and having to go pick some up, we had a bit of a great meal: bratwurst, macaroni salad, green salad and potato chips. We really felt like we were eeking out the last bits of summer with this meal.

We had another wonderful reflection to wrap up the night. Tonight's reflection focused on the idea of seeing something or being made aware a something for the first time. We shared something from our day that we learned that really turned things up on end for us and opened our eyes in a new way.

Dan showing off taking a picture with a really old camera