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.