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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday's Pictures

Tuesday March 30, 2010

Another guest blogger...

Hi All!
     We had a wonderful day today!!  Though we started the day off with some clouds, they gave way to sunshine while we finished off the steps at our site.  We had were wonderful workers again today screwing in the boards on the steps.  We all worked hard to dig and dig and dig some more and yet the hole never seemed to get deeper nor did the risers seem to level!  With hard work, determination and some "girl power" we managed to get all but the railings completed.
     The people at our site were so nice and the homeowner's brother-in-law showered us with homemade gifts made of recycled materials.  The smile on the homeowner's face was worth all of the hard work!  Of course we played with the dogs and enjoyed watching the ducks swim by in the water as we were energized by the sunlight that shined today unlike yesterday.  I think we did a good job of mixing work and play!
     Having the young women here has been a wonderful experience.  Their energy and enthusiasm have been inspiring.  Seeing them surrounded by the WV mountains wheeling a pickax or operating a drill made me realize how important these trips really are.  I am so glad that we were still able to come even though there were so few of us this year.  I can't wait to see what next year will bring!!

Stay tuned for the posting of the pictures tomorrow due to technical difficulties today!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pictures from Monday

Having fun on the van ride down

Modeling the rubber boot look

Hi ho, hi ho off to work we go...

...and hard work it was

Work begins on the steps...

...and the platform

Our friend Skipper kept us entertained

All smiles here!

Toward the end of the day, the steps and platform started taking shape

A quick shot before we left. At this point we were all a little cold, wet and muddy, but it was a great day!

A little Brooklyn comes to the Mountains...

From a special guest blogger....

Our PV communities continue to merge as yet another member of TGIA has ventured for the first time into the mountains.  It has been a great trip so far in spite of rain on the 11 hour ride down, and more rain at today's worksite.  We are continuing the work started by NIU students two weeks ago, by adding stairs to the front of the trailer.  The woman who will move in there stayed with us all day in the rain, telling stories and sharing her warm laughter (in spite of recent hardship and loss).  Our 6 woman crew was impressive, especially our teen girls who picked up carpentry skills with tremendous energy and ease!  And Skipper the puppy added affection and comic relief to the day.  

Back at homebase we left our muddy boots on the porch, and enjoyed some soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, followed by a reflection of the day and a somewhat mellow, though laughter filled version of the board game of 'Outburst'.

Our day ended with a Litany for Peace by Thich Nhat Hahn...
With humility, with awareness of the existence of life, and of the sufferings that are going on around us, let us pray for the establishment of peace in our hearts and on the earth.  Amen.           

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Back in West Virginia

We are back in wild, wonderful West Virginia again.  The drive down was in the pouring rain, just as it was when we left the county two weeks ago.  Luckily, the rivers are much lower and there doesn't seem to be a threat of flooding in county.

This time we are in Wyoming County for a TGIA service trip. "Teen Girls in Action" is the young womens empowerment group from Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn that we have been working with for the past 7 years.  This is the 4th service trip for the group.  We had some last minute cancellations, so the group is two young women and four slightly older women : ), who lead the group.  We will be in Wyoming County until Wednesday morning, and will be sure to post daily, our activities and a few pictures, so please check back!  We might also have a few guest bloggers to mix it up a bit...

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers during the week.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Some Pictures from the Midwest Reunion

One of the benefits of living on a farm, you have have a tractor available to pull your car out of a snow drift!

Hard at work setting up the welcome home dinner

The guest of honor, David, being presented with an American flag afghan, made by is aunt, to honor is 4+ years of service.  Thank you David!
There were lots of little ones at the dinner to entertain us

Showing off all the chicken bones from the fried chicken meal...yum yum

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New "Live with Passion" Blog

We have created a new bog for the Live with Passion so you can follow along with the different activities taking place.  It is still in the process of being formatted and updated, but keep checking back.  You can easily get to the blog by clicking on the link on the right side of this blog.

Also, don't think we have forgotten about posting more pictures from the Midwest Reunion.  They are coming, we are just waiting on a few more to be emailed so we can post them all at once.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Snowy Midwest Reunion

The Midwest Reunion in Atchison, KS is underway.  Even though spring officially starts tomorrow we are having a snowy, blustery, cold day.  Here are a couple of pictures...more to come.

Volunteers hard at work evaluating last summer's program and planning for the upcoming summer:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I'm sure many of you have seen the news reports of flooding in West Virginia.  We had heavy rains Friday night into Saturday, coupled with snow melt from the warm weather during the week.  When we drove out to Baileysville early Saturday morning to say goodbye to the NIU students the rivers were quite high and beginning to get close to the road.  By the time we headed out on Saturday, around 11:00, the rivers were moving quite swiftly.  We decided to drive out through Mullens, but were turned away with water over the road just past New Richmond.  Wyoming County was spared from any major flooding, but Beckley and the surrounding area was hit pretty hard.  Keep everyone in your thoughts and prayers.

NIU Students on the final night:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday, March 12th

The week has come to an end, and what a wonderful week it has been.  Despite predictions of rain and bad weather, we ended up with a beautiful, sunny week and and even more wonderful group of NIU students.

For the last day, the students broke into three groups and spread out across the county.  One group went to the Matheny Head Start to help fill in with a short staffed classroom and had a blast with the children.  Another group went back to the Food Bank to help finish the repairs from yesterday and helped unload a commodities truck. The Food Bank is looking more like it's old self for distribution next week.  The last and largest group headed up to the town of Helen where they helped with the Upper Guyandotte Watershed Association (UGWA) to remove Japanese Knot-weed from the river's edge.  The removal of this invasive weed helped to clear the spot where the town will put their soon to be installed water treatment system.

It has truly been a pleasure to work with the sixteen young women and men from NIU this week.  They were willing to do any of the tasks that we put in front them, no matter how dirty or how unglamorous they were.  And even more impressive, even project they worked on did not have a chance of completion, they were just there to help the project along and to pass the next task on to the next group.  In a society such as ours where we want results, it has been refreshing to be with young people who are satisfied to do their part to better the world they live in.  They are truly an inspiration and it has been a gift to be with them this week.

PS:  We will be posting more pictures in the next week after everyone gets home safely an emails their favorite pictures.

Thursday, March 11th

Well the week may be winding down, but the students of NIU are still going strong.  What a busy day we had and how pleased we are with the work that was done.  Once again the students divided up, sending a group of eager workers to far reaching corners of Wyoming County.

One group of students went to the Early Head Start in Matheny.  This was their second day at this particular Head Start and we thought it would be the last.  But no...we have such a dedicated group that they have answered the call to return again tomorrow.  It is not easy saying no to adorable children and a wonderful teacher like Nancy. 

The Itmann Food Bank, a place we all know and love, is another place where our hardworking NIU students pitched in to provide some assistance.  As we noted yesterday, the food bank received a much needed shipment of housewares.  Today those housewares were unpacked and put up for next week's distribution.  Having finished that assignment relatively quickly,we were asked finish up some minor repairs needed in the building, which by the way is looking fantastic!

In addition to the Itmann Food Bank and Head Start, a group of students continued with the project in Hanover.  And it must be said that NIU really went far beyond our expectations of what could be accomplished at this home this week.  The insulation is completed, about half of the underpinning is up and all the painting we had hoped to do is done!  Yes the weather helped, but it was not the weather who knelt in the mud day after day framing and hanging underpinning.  And because of the effort put forth by NIU, the homeowner is closer to the day when she can leave her FEMA trailer and come home.

The day came full circle when Val from UGWA joined us for dinner and an informational session on the Upper Guyandotte Watershed.  Val told us of some of the issues facing the watershed.  Tomorrow will be spent working to correct one issue,  the dreaded Japanese Knot-weed!  We will let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday, March 10th

We have it the official middle of the week... my has it flown by.  Although the day started a little dizzily the weather turned out to be ok, a little warm actually.  Today we had four crews out across the county.  We were able to send volunteers to two different Early Head Starts, the one in Baileysville and the one in Matheny.  Although we never have pictures, the volunteers are doing a wonderful job and the teachers are singing their praises.

We sent a group back to Hanover to continue to underpin the trailer.  With the rains from the night before it was even a little more muddy if you can believe it.  The progress being made on the trailer continues to amaze us! 

The fourth group today had a combo site, both in Mullens.  First they went to help a man knock down and haul a way an old building on his property. That sounds simple enough, but there is no way to pull our truck up to it to load the debris so it had to be hand carried down a steep flight of steps and across a highway to the truck (see picture)  We had just gotten into the swing of things when a truck arrived with housewares for the Food Bank that they needed help unloading. We all headed over to help unload the truck and take a quick lunch break.  After lunch we went back and continued to help knock down and haul.  Two trips to the dump were made and the building we wanted to get down, was completed, so a good day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday, March 9th

Another beautiful sunny day in the mountains of West Virginia...we are only saying this because the weather is suppose to change for the worse tomorrow.  Today three volunteers returned to the Early Head Start and the rest of the group went to the home repair site.  The home repair site looked like the hub of activity in the county.  One group was insulating under the trailer and putting up plastic to protect it, another group loaded the truck for the dump runs, another group worked framing the front of the trailer for underpinning, another worked framing the back and while a group attached underpinning.  It was quite an impressive site.  We were greeted with abundant sunshine in the afternoon, but unfortunately that did not help with the muddy conditions (see pictures.)

In the evening the students were treated to an informative talk from Debbie from St. Vincent DePaul.  She shared information about the floods, the recovery efforts as well as telling a bit about her own experiences growing up and living in the area.  Thank you Debbie!

Some pictures from the day....

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Today was a beautiful day in the mountains of West Virginia, lots of sunshine and blue skies.  Although we all enjoyed the weather very much, I don't think we could fully appreciate how much the local folks appreciated the day.  They, like many in the east, have had quite the winter with many snows.

We had three sites today.  A group went to Baileysville Early Head Start where they worked with six kids, ages 0-5.  A good time was had by the volunteers.  Another group headed to the Itmann Food Bank for some scraping, sanding and painting some of the new walls.  A wonderful lunch was prepared for them by the the Food Bank volunteers.  The rest of the group went to our home repair site out in Hanover, on the far west end of the county.  This area was severely affected by a flood in May and is still in desperate need of help.  We worked on trailer for a woman whose trailer was completely washed away in the flood and is now living in a FEMA trailer.  She a bought a used trailer that needs a great deal of work which we are happy to help her with.  Today a group of volunteers helped pull up old rugs inside, another group began underpinning the outside and a third group worked to insulate under the trailer.  But for those of you who are thinking "I thought we don't work under trailers", the trailer sits on cinder blocks 5 feet off the ground so you can easily walk under.  We will be working on this site throughout the week as well as this summer.  Enjoy a few pictures from the day....
We are looking forward to another great day tomorrow!

Happy International Womens Day!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

NIU Arrives for 12th Year

We are happy to welcome back to Wyoming County, WV, Northern Illinois University Newman Center back for there 12th spring break service trip.  All 16 participants (we think that is a record!) arrived safely last night around 11:00.  Today started off with Mass at Holy Cross and then a wonderful day of community bonding.  The NIU crew arrived later in the day at the PV house for an evening a food, fellowship, orientation and commissioning.  We were joined for the evening by Arnie and Kathy, who generously shared their wisdom and insights about the area with the students.  The evening closed with the traditional PV Commissioning Service, annointed the volunteers for their service that lies ahead.

Big day tomorrow...Early Head Start, painting at the Food Bank and starting a big home repair project that will last until well into the summer.

The group finishing up dinner

The 2010 NIU Crew