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

Friday, September 27, 2013

More pictures from Aurora

Here are some more pictures from the week long PV service trip to Aurora, IL. It was a great week! You can read more about the trip by going through some of the earlier posts.


Monday, September 16, 2013

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.

Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church - Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Aurora, Illinois, is a diverse and unified community of Christ's disciples living our Catholic-Christian faith through worship, fellowship and service bringing God's transforming love to our parish and our world.

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.

Mutual Grounds - Mutual Ground, located in Aurora Illinois, provides a safety net of services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault that include emergency shelter, domestic violence victim advocacy and sexual assault counseling. Additional services include education programs for professionals, students and the community-at-large.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Day 7 Aurora Service Trip

On our final day in Aurora, we spent the morning helping out with a fundraising hike for Hesed House, one of the organizations we worked with during the week. The Hike for Hesed is an annual fundraiser for the organization that starts at Hesed House and runs along the Fox River. The PVs did a variety of jobs to help the hike run smoothly. There was a great turnout for the event (lots of people and lots of dogs, including a couple of PV dogs) and it raised $30,000 for Hesed House.

After the hike the PV trip was officially over. It was a great week! In the coming week we will be posting additional pictures as well as links to the organizations we worked with. A big thank you to Bruce and Susan for housing the PVs and setting up all the activities for the week. You guys made this week special!

Day 6 Aurora Service Trip

Friday, the group spent the day working at the offices of World Relief, helping with a citizenship workshop. The volunteers sat with people who were in the final stages of becoming a US Citizen and helped them complete the 10 page application, as it can get rather confusing. The PVs had a special training on completely the applications a few nights before, so we would be ready to assist. The day was a very different and wonderful experience for the volunteers, that touched them and they will carry with them for years to come.

We also said goodbye to several volunteers during the day. We decided to go out for dinner in downtown Aurora with those remaining, for a celebration of the week. We ate at an Irish pub on the river, so afterward we strolled along the river and enjoyed a beautiful fall evening.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Day 5 Aurora Service Trip

Today we worked at Mutual Grounds, an organization that works with women who have suffered domestic violence or sexual assault. They run their organization out of a old mansion, that used to house the mayor of Aurora. They don't spend any money on maintenance and rely upon volunteers to help maintain the property. Today we pitched in and helped to week throughout the grounds. It was a gorgeous day to be outside.

For dinner tonight we were treated to roasted chicken,  potatoes and lots of other goodies. Between dinner and reflection we has a bit of down time, so banana grams and hearts games were played.

This evening we had our closing prayer service since we will be losing a couple volunteers tomorrow. We shared about the work we did with our hands this week. Even though we are winding down, we are excited for the remaining two service opportunities.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day 4 Aurora Service Trip

Today we split up for part of the day so we can tackle a larger number of projects. In the morning part of the group went back to Hesed House to finish putting together the furniture that we started assembling on Sunday. We are happy to report everything is together and ready to be set up.

The other part of the group went to Our Lady of Good Counsel to help move furniture and organize in their old church building. The building looked great after the volunteers were done.

We all met up for lunch at Bruce's before heading out to help set up an apartment for a refuge family arriving from the Congo tonight. As part of their mission, World Relief helps to welcome newly arrived refuges with an apartment all set up and ready for when the family arrives. With all the changes and adjustments that they have to make, the hope is to at least make that part a little easier. World Vision continues to work with the newly arrived folks with ESL classes and numerous other services.

We were a bit rushed, but we had a great Mexican feast for dinner. Very tasty and very filling. After dinner we had our nightly reflection, and then headed over to Northern Illinois University for their Wednesday evening Mass. NIU and the PVs have partnered for a spring break service trip each year since 1998. It was great to connect with the NIU students outside of their time during spring break trips in WV. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day 3 Aurora Service Trip

Today we returned to the future Emanuel House offices to continue gutting out the insides. At the end of the day there were a lot of tired, dusty bodies, but happy to have been of help. To celebrate the end of two great, hot days, we managed to find a Dairy Queen and enjoyed a nice and frosty treats.

For dinner tonight we had a delicious beef stroganoff and salad. After dinner we were given a wonderful presentation from World Relief. First, information about their programs with refuges and second, on immigration issues. Very interesting and informative. Both of these programs we will be working with later this week.

After the long day we wrapped up the day with a nice reflection about beacons of hope we have seen thus far this week.

Day 2 Aurora, IL Service Trip

Another a great day! Today we went to help out Emanuel House, a non profit whose mission it is to help people become home owners in their communities. They are able to offer a program where families are able to rent one of their properties for 2 years, where at the end of the 2 years receive their rent back to put as a down payment on a house in the community. A really amazing concept filling a great need and a gap in services. The project we worked on was to help them begin to refurbish an old office that will become their offices, as well as offices for World Relief, another non profit that we will be working with later in the week. Our main job today was demolition, not something that we as PVs do often. We worked in several different parts of the building tearing down walls, ceilings and floors, where in most places were four layers; tile, cement, cement again and finally wood. After all this was tossed out the back of the building we also filled up a dumpster with all the debris. Unfortunately the dumpster was not able to be placed close enough to put the debris directly into the dumpster because of the elevated train tracks directly behind the building. The general contractor for this project was from a very interesting organization called My Father's Hands, the only nonprofit contractor in the country. They were wonderful guides through the day, working right along beside us.

At the end of the work day we were tired, but a good tired. We had a wonderful dinner of kabobs, with most of the veggies on them from volunteer's gardens. After dinner we had a nice reflection and looked back on our day.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Day 1 of Aurora, IL Service Trip

The Aurora service trip started right out of the gate this morning. We spent the day at Hesed House in downtown. Volunteers helped out on a variety of tasks during the day. Some helped with the meal service, some helped clean out and organize a storage area for the food, and some helped to put together donated furniture for the transisitional housing program. Hesed  House is an amazing organization helping with immediate needs as well as helping with long term support and assistance when needed.

After our full day of service, we shared a meal together and then went to a local church for a Spanish Mass. After the service, the priest said a blessing over our group for the week.

After returning home, we had two more very important items to do, the orientation and commissioning. Although a little out of order, always a wonderful way to begin the week.

Off on another adventure tomorrow!

Friday, September 6, 2013

New Pilot Program Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow we kick of off our second new location this year, with a week long pilot program in Aurora, IL, just outside Chicago. A dozen PVs will take part in the week full of new and exciting service opportunities. PVs will help serve lunch at a homeless shelter, assist with rehab of a transitional housing organization, help set up an apartment for a newly arriving Congolese family, as well as assist with other newly arrived families, just to name a few of the activities. The week promises to be a busy one, but never to busy to have lots of community time and reflection each night. Wouldn't be a PV experience without it!

We will be posting daily our activities, so please follow along and be a part of this new and exciting adventure!