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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Different Ways, Same Goals

When PVs put their heads together and come up with an idea to raise funds to help keep the PV Volunteers going, only  good has happened. So far this year, there have been three very different events to raise money and all three have been very successful. A potluck in Seattle raised $625, two wine parities in New Jersey raised over $3,000, and a garage sale in Florida raised over $400. Not only did these events raise money for the PVs, but participants were able to hear more about who the PVs are and what we do.

We share this because we need to get more PVs to host events such as these to help us keep the program afloat. Let us know if you are already planning an event so we can put it on our site, or if you would like some help in planning and activity. Any people involved in past events would be more than happy to share their wisdom with you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Reflection from a Seattle PV

By: Dan Schletzbaum

During our week of service in Seattle this year, we went and worked at the Union Gospel Mission in downtown Seattle. I have worked at other soup kitchens before but my day at this mission was truly a moving experience. When we first went through the doors, we had to check in and receive a volunteer patch. After that, we were lead back into the kitchen area where many men were hard at work preparing breakfast. They were busy cooking pancakes, grits and bacon. Each person had their special job and their total attention was devoted to their task. The whole kitchen area was run like a fine oiled machine. We were asked to split up. Leo and I went out front to serve bagels, yogurt, and milk. The other four, Jill, Amy, Katie, and Walt, were asked to serve the pancakes, bacon and grits. It was 5 minutes till 7:00am. The person in charge said the doors open at 7:00am.  The first group of people that came in were the ones that spent the night up above in their rooms, which the center operated above the mess hall. After that the other 3 groups would come and these were the homeless people living out on the streets. 

When the clock struck 7:00 we were all at our stations ready for to serve the meal. As the door was unlocked, the line quickly formed.  I noticed how polite all the people were as they came through the line inquiring about the flavors of yogurt I was handing out.  Many of the guest’s eyes quickly brightened up when they saw the cartons of milk. But then when they saw the expiration date was a few days expired, they started putting the milk back into the iced pail where they had taken it from.  After the line had formed, one of the workers brought me a large box of peppermint candy to hand out. As I was standing there handing out the assigned food, a woman came up to me and asked me if the milk was okay to drink since it was passed the expiration date. I replied it had been kept cold. She was concerned because she was pregnant and did not want to get sick. She thought for a minute, then picked up a carton and sat down and ate her breakfast.

As the morning went by and the line of guests continued, I thought of how it is in the morning at home, when I wake up and open up the cabinet for the boxed cereal and the refrigerator for milk every morning knowing I can always expect it to be there. As the line for the first group came to an end and all the guests had finished breakfast and had left, the door was again locked and all the workers picked up and prepared for the next group of guests to arrive.

As the door was unlocked the second time, people of all ages and sizes came in. Many of them looked tired and cold. Some needed a shave and a bath. But what I noticed they all looked hungry. These are the people who have slept out on the streets night after night and were homeless. But I also noticed there were others who were well dressed and had a neat appearance. As the line formed we all handed out the food that had been prepared for them. The slightly expired milk quickly disappeared and they were not concerned about the date on the carton. Everyone appeared happy to just being able to receive milk to drink. I observed how the peppermint candy disappeared. Some were taking one piece and others contemplating on filling their back packs.

The majority of guests were men, with just a few women. As I was watching I noticed that as they ate and slowly left the dining hall there was one man sitting at one table and a woman at another. Soon they started yelling at each other very loudly and then started to get in each others faces and vulgar things were being said. Leo and I really didn’t know what we should do, but then three workers quickly stepped in and broke up the argument.  The woman quickly left and had also left behind her personal items on the table along with her half eaten breakfast. I was thinking to myself, of how this woman came to eat breakfast and rest her tired body and all she got was hatred and anger. As the room emptied, there was a man sitting by himself slowly eating his pancakes. One of the local staff asked him if he could hurry up and eat because everyone had to be out so the staff could pick up and be ready for the next group. When the gentleman was asked again, he got up and left half of his food. As you see, everything had to be run on time, because we served over 300 people in a very short time. When the morning came to an end, everything had to be washed down and cleaned for lunch lines that would be starting soon.
After things were cleaned, we were asked to help with the preparations for the lunch. We diced celery, shallots and peppers. The staff person who showed us how to properly dice all the food had gone to culinary school. He was a graduate of the mission program. He stated that 80% of all the staff had graduated from the program as well. We were also informed that 100% of the food was donated and how some of the food just shows up every day.

I had such a great experience in helping at this soup kitchen, that if you are given an opportunity to serve at one, don’t pass up on this rewarding experience to help with serving food to the hungry. It will change your life as it has given me a whole new perception of homeless people and how they live .

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May E-Newsletter

If you would like to be added to our email list and receive updates and newsletters directly, please email pvprogram@gmail.com with your information.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Thank You Seattle

We wanted to say a special "Thank You" to all the wonderful organizations in Seattle who opened their arms to the PVs. They are all doing amazing work within the community and we were grateful to be just a small part of their work. Below are the organizations that we worked with, along with their mission and a link to their websites. We encourage you to check out their websites and learn more about their missions. You can see what the PVs did at each organization in previous blog posts.

Oso/Darrington Mudslide Relief Community Collection Center:  A grassroots community effort that formed from hearing from those on-the ground at the scene, that the much needed and appreciated donations that were arriving to the site were overwhelming volunteers and that storage space was limited.

St. Francis House:  St. Francis House is established in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi to be a presence in Seattle to serve those in need and to inspire simplicity and charity in its volunteers and those they serve.  

Union Gospel Mission:  Seattle's Union Gospel Mission provides emergency care and long-term recovery services to hurting and homeless people in the greater Seattle area. We're dedicated to serving, rescuing and transforming those in greatest need through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Our Lady of Guadalupe School:   Our Lady of Guadalupe School fosters gospel values, inspires academic excellence, and develops service and leadership. We face this task as a sacramental community united and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish:   OLG a very active and vibrant parish that is located in the heart of West Seattle. Our hope is that this website will reflect our parish mission, providing not only information but formation as well, helping persons have a better understanding of who we are and what we believe as Catholic Christians.

WestSide Baby:  WestSide Baby, in partnership with our community, provides essential items to local children in need by collecting and distributing diapers, clothing and equipment.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Some Pictures From Seattle

Below are some pictures from the week along with a reminder of what we did that day. If you haven't had a chance to read about each days activities we encourage you to go back and read about each day. Also, a big thanks to our guest blogger Amy for writing the entries each day!

Monday - Oso, Deception Pass, Whidbey Island and Fort Casey

Tuesday - St. Francis House, Pike Place Market

Wednesday - United Gospel Mission, Our Lady of Guadalupe Library, Alki Beach Bonfire


Thursday - Our Lady of Guadalupe Giving Garden and Library, Museum of Flight

Friday - Westside Baby, Lincoln Park, Ballard Locks, Seattle "Live with Passion" Potluck

Where You Invest Your Love, You Invest Your Life - Awake My Soul

Our final work day in Seattle. This morning we went on a short hike at Lincoln park. We started along the shoreline then climbed up a steep hill to explore a more wooded area. The trek was a bit of a workout so we were able to work off our breakfast. We even had some adventurous volunteers try zip lining for the first time. The person sits on a swing then slides down the line. At the end of the line, the swing hits a rubber tire to make the individual swing higher.

Today we worked at Westside Baby. Westside Baby is an agency that collects used children's clothing and other necessities. Besides donated items, they also provide a 10 day supply of diapers to every family they serve with an infant in their household. Nonprofits in the greater Seattle area go online and place orders for clients in need of various items. There is an admin building, a warehouse where the items are tidily stored by size/age, and another warehouse with recently donated supplies. We worked in one of the warehouses taking car seats apart so they can be recycled. Car seats only have a six year lifespan because the plastic degrades. Four out of five car seats donated is either too old or has been recalled. To recycle a car seat, the plastic and metal must be separated which is very time intensive. Because of this factor, it is very challenging to find an organization which will recycle them. The task does not sound difficult but it is actually quite complicated to take apart a car seat. There are so many  car seat designs; each one is a little bit different. It also takes a decent amount of muscle to separate some of the pieces. We had quite the project ahead of us as there was a mountain of car seats but we were able to finish the majority of the pile. The staff and local volunteers were welcoming and appreciative of the work we did.

Next we voyaged out to the Ballard locks. Built in 1917 by the Army corps, the locks connect the Puget Sound to Lake Union. The locks also contain a fish ladder where Salmon and trout journey through twice a year. There are four panels of glass viewers can watch the fish swim by. Although this is not the prime time to see them, we caught a glimpse of a couple of the early birds- I mean fish. While at the locks we also took time to sit to reflect on our week and the experiences we gained. 

From there we headed to the greater Seattle Live with Passion potluck.  Supporters of the program were gracious enough to host us at their home in Edmonds. The potluck had a nice turn-out with thirty attendees.  Good conversation and food were enjoyed by all. Volunteers shared their experiences from the week and locals gave us an inside perspective of living in Washington.  Pickle ball, a favorite local past time was played. A volunteer's thirtieth birthday was celebrated and we ended the evening with stomachs full of scrumptious desserts. 

The week went by so quickly. We are amazed at how fast time flew by. We all learned so much about Seattle and enjoyed everything the area has to offer. We learned it is not always rainy in Seattle, observed the benefits of a city that is environmentally and locally conscious and took in breathtaking views. We spent time with the last, the lost and the left out and will carry our memories from this week with us in our hearts. We invested our love to impact Seattle and will forever invest our lives in community, service and reflection.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Another Member of the Human Race

Another Member of the Human Race


Good evening PV blog readers! Today was a hot one in Seattle! All of our fair skinned volunteers are rosy from a morning's work in the parish garden. This site is a continuation from last year. Last year the volunteers weeded, leveled and created garden boxes turning an idea to reality. This year seeds are planted and a prayer labyrinth was installed. This morning we weeded and leveled the side of the garden so a fence can later be installed. The garden is on a steep incline; a fence will be built for safety reasons. While working we listened to stories from a local while following PV protocol and taking multiple water breaks. Our project was completed thankfully before the severe heat wave was upon us.

Next we headed back to the school library. Half of us removed books out of the computer database. The rest of us prepared the books for their journey to the Philippines. The afternoon went quickly and we were able to accomplish much. Fun fact- Pearl Harbor occurred before Hawaii was a state.

For fun we grabbed some local ice cream and headed to the Museum of Flight. We saw an aerocar, walked onto Eisenhower's Air Force One and watched a video on how astronauts go to the bathroom in space. It was a great way to enjoy the outdoors as many of the planes were outside. Boeing is a big contributor to Seattle's economy so visiting the Museum of Flight seemed appropriate.

For dinner we were treated to the guys' delicious tuna casserole. We reflected on various stories from our week who have brightened us with their presence similar to Thomas Merton's experience in Louisville. The week has been so interesting and enjoyable it is hard to believe tomorrow is Friday.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Another Day In Paradise

Just Another Day in Paradise

     Merrily we left at 6:20am to serve breakfast at the Union Gospel Mission. Four of us served the grits, pancakes with syrup, and bacon. Two of us handed out milk, bagels, yogurt (sweet potato being one of the variations) and an after breakfast mint. There were four shifts of guests with a total of three hundred served. One hundred percent of the food served is donated. We were told by one of the local volunteers that they have always had enough food because God always provides. After the final tier of breakfast was served, we cleaned up and then started cutting vegetables for lunch. One of the volunteers had attended culinary school so he showed us the proper techniques for cutting celery, shallots, and red peppers. We managed to not cut ourselves with their chef knives and enjoyed some nice conversation. That same volunteer explained to us that he is a graduate of the mission program and that eighty percent of the staff graduated from the program as well. We left Union Gospel Mission and enjoyed a picnic lunch before working at the Our Lady of Guadeloupe school library.

     For those who don't remember, Our Lady of Guadeloupe is the parish generously providing us with a place to stay at their parish center. The facility is state of the art and beautiful. Their school library will soon be transformed. The librarians spent hours researching and created a master plan. Step one of this renovation is to make room for the new by filtering out books older than thirty years old. Research has shown children feel overwhelmed by overcrowded book shelves and are more likely to explore a library when the bookshelves are half full. Nine of us checked the copyrights of every book in the library and removed the older books in one afternoon. The school will donate the older books to a place in the Philippines. It was fun to see the old books, to reminisce and to educate ourselves. At the end of the day, the library was ready for the next stage of their renovation.

     The weather has frequently been discussed this week but for good reason. Today was 80 degrees and without a cloud in the sky. Seattle is normally not blessed with this type of weather, especially not in April. We spent the evening at Alki Beach. For dinner we had hot dogs cooked on a beach fire followed by s'mores. We forgot we were in Seattle until we dipped our toes into the sound. So many people were out enjoying the gorgeous weather. Watching the sun set behind snow capped mountains is truly a sight to see.