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, November 29, 2010

PVs Recieve Grant

We are pleased to announce that the PVs have been chosen to receive a $10,000 grant from the McDonough Foundation.  This grant will help us to continue our work in the upcoming year.  The McDonough Foundation is based in Parkersburg, WV.

Monday, November 22, 2010

An Article about Brenda

The following article was written by our own Joanne Camas, about Brenda and the work we did at her house this summer.  So many hours of blood, sweat and tears were put into her house this summer by so many PVs.

Home is where the heart is. And Brenda Lester knows that more that most people: She promised her husband, B.O., that she’d rebuild their flooded home on the spot where he was born and they’d built their own house together 36 years ago.

“I’ve spent the better part of my life here,” she said, smiling through tears as she thought of her husband, who died in March from cancer. 

The Lesters’ home was flooded twice, first on Mother’s Day in 2009, and then on June 13 this year. Last year the house was full of mud; this year it was sand.

Now Brenda is ready to move back home, into a refurbished trailer sitting high on blocks and completely decorated and fixed up by the PV Volunteers, a group that’s been helping out in Wyoming County for 12 years.

“I just sat down and cried,” Brenda explains, recalling hearing the news that the PV volunteers would help her. “I just can’t believe that people give of their time and their summer to help other people who need it.”
Brenda is looking forward to putting family pictures back on the walls and making it home. “The water was 42 inches high in our house,” she says. “I lost everything except a few pictures that were high on the wall, one bed, and my breakfast set.” Her family have made her copies of their photos, which will have pride of place in her new living room. 

She has also decorated a bedroom bright pink for her granddaughters, and is delighted to have a place to invite them and room for them to stay.

When Brenda and B.O.  were homeless after the flood, they had to sleep in their car for several nights even though he was very sick, and then moved around friends and neighbors. “No one ever turned us down,” she says, “but it was embarrassing.” Her husband also found it difficult not to help her out. “He had worked hard his whole life and always helped everyone out,” she says. “He would cry because I was doing all the work and he couldn’t help me.”

She has been living in a FEMA trailer up the road from her home for a year and a half now, and visits her house every day to encourage and thank the volunteers and watch their progress.

On a recent hot, humid afternoon she sat in the shade under her trees, looking at her house and the creek below. Although she smiles, her hands are kneading the bottle of water in her hand, and tears are never far away. 

What has she missed most?
“I can’t wait to be in my own bedroom,” she says, with a big smile. “The first thing I’m going to do is take me a long sleep in my good bed!”

The next thing will be to bring back her dog, Brownie. “He’s been separated from me since last May, and I can’t wait to bring him home. I miss him and he misses me, and when I visit him he jumps up on my lap and nuzzles me like he’s saying “Where you been?’” she says, through tears.

The PV Program draws volunteers from around the country to work in Wyoming County every summer. This year volunteers helped Brenda Lester and other people whose homes were devastated by recent flooding, ran basketball and soccer camps for local youngsters, helped organize and distribute food at the Itmann Foodbank in Mullens, and built steps and fixed roofs for people who were unable to complete the work themselves.

PV Alternative Giving Opportunity

As the holidays are approaching, we thought this would be a great time to launch a new initiative. We have now set up a way for people to give to the program while honoring a loved one.  You can give a gift of a week of camp to a child in WV or NY, or give a ramp or part of a ramp to someone, or even support a volunteer for a week or a day.  The person whom you are giving the gift to will receive a beautiful photo card of the PVs at work, acknowledging the gift.  There are gifts ranging from $5 on up, so really for any price range.  As always, your donation to the PV Volunteers is tax deductible.

Below is a flier explaining the program.  You can click on the flier to zoom in to read it and/or print it.  If you would like us to email you a copy or send a paper copy of the flier, please let us know and we would be happy to do so.  Please spread the word among your friends, family and even your churches.  This is something not only for volunteers to do, but for anyone that would like to give a gift that would truly change lives.

On a side note, if you would like to give a gift for Christmas, regardless of how you are paying, could you email us the information so that we can make sure the cards get to the person, or to you if you prefer,  before Christmas.

Thank you for taking the time to read the flier and please let us know if you have any questions.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Volunteer Reflection

In our November PV Newsletter we included part of a reflection written by one of our volunteers, Amy O'Dea.  Here is the reflection in its entirety:

How can I say what the PV program really means to me?  How do you talk about the most influential experiences of your life?  Oh how I wish I could put into words how much this program has impacted me.
My life before PV was grand.  I was motivated, loved and had nothing to complain about.  I decided to go on an alternative spring break my freshman year of college.  My motives were completely selfish; I was only going to meet people, have fun and see a different part of the country.  I was warned this trip would change my life but never imagined the repercussions.
The PV program was a gateway to a world I could attempt to change.  The PV program instilled passion in me to be present to the abused, the addicted, the suffering and the unappreciated.  I was taught how to love the lost, the lonely and financially burdened.  Appalachia went from being a place on a map to my own personal utopia.  Welfare recipients went from being numbers on a page to individuals with names, stories and lack of opportunity.  The more involved I became with this program, the more meaningful my life became.
Because of the PV program I find myself in New Hampshire as an AmeriCorps VISTA.  I am the statewide youth coordinator for the Red Cross.  The PV program gave this Illinois gal the curiosity to ask what else is out there.  This program introduced me to a former VISTA who truly changed the world.  I was so inspired by this individual who played basketball with junior high students and spent his Friday nights with the homebound population that I signed myself up for a year of service.  I try to befriend the friendless, to listen to the unheard and somewhere in between all that I provide leadership opportunities to our future.  I have been carrying the PV charisma deep in my heart since I returned from my freshman spring break trip.
The other day I had the high school students I work with for an icebreaker draw what they will look like when they are seventy-five as well as where they will be.  Immediately I pictured myself smiling on my hands and knees repairing a home surrounded by majestic Appalachian mountains.  I could not picture my life any other way.  Why would I want to?  The program has done so much for me, why would I ever leave this?
March will mark six years since I came across the best thing that ever happened to me.  I almost feel like I am writing a love letter but the truth is I love the PV program.  I love this program so much I physically ache for summer to return the instant my car passes through the gates of Glen Fork Elementary School.  I love this program so much for giving me a mailbox full of pen pals and a nation full of family.  I love this program so much I illogically think I would die without this program. 
This program is more than a volunteer program; it is a community and a way of life.  This program is my motivation to get out of bed in the morning.  This program challenges me to live the life I envision for myself.  How empty my life would be without the presence of the best thing that has ever happened to me.