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 14, 2015

No Man Is An Island

Reflection is a integral part of the PV Volunteer experience. When we finish up at a site we encourage volunteers to take the time write a reflection about their experiences during the week to help process what they were a part of. The following is a reflection on the Seattle PV Experience by Tom Ring, a volunteer from Florida.

Charity has many meanings, mostly I think it gives a sense of goodness, even the desire of our hearts become larger as we help others. This is a natural part of everyone. Personally I am still beginning to understand a love for Every being (human and beyond). It’s been more than casually searching for a deeper truth and understanding thru research and contemplation. Beginning in my youth and throughout adulthood, God’s love has been the returning path to which I’ve begun to realize the mystery of my Will, to give ... to anyone.
The PV experience has enriched this process each time I’ve been able to join in. Again in Seattle this spring 2015, the PV’s have offered not only the opportunity of fun & joy of community through serving, it has offered more clarity in my search for deeper meaning in ways that I might communicate, support and find love not only for those in need, but those who are different culturally and socially. “The more we desire to give ourselves in Charity the more Charity we will have to give, and the more we give the more truly we shall be.” Wrote Thomas Merton in his book who’s title I’ve purposely used in the heading above. Merton also writes “The fruit of my labors is not my own: for I am preparing the way for the achievements of another.” Thus giving without expectation of any receipt, it becomes an unexpected joy, realizing that it is true in our own hearts, we are able to let it go, let it be free.
It is a remarkable city, Seattle. A place of beauty, freedom, charity and responsibility. Many people of Seattle have grasped and organized these important ways into life. It was obvious that each center we worked with had a spider web of managed groups participating in one way or another like a well oiled set of gears operating and serving without friction. Each understood the value to serve thru volunteerism, so we fit in seamlessly. 
We had two soup kitchen and one Church kitchen experience (Operation Sack Lunch, Union Gospel Mission and Our Lady of Guadalupe), preparing, serving & busing hot and wholesome meals where we met, chatted, joked and smiled with nearly everyone who crossed our path. At one location, under an overpass up town, we greeted and served over 100 people a hot lunch. I was affected by each grateful smile and “thank you.” At many points this felt less like charity, it seemed more like a planetary responsibility of feeding your children (or your dog and cat) ... because you love them, it was just what you do naturally.
We also did work for Mother Nature (it was work)! and met 30 or so interesting folks working with the Nature Consortium digging up an evasive Himalayan black berry. This process was to allow the forest beside a long time polluted waterway to recover and to aid in both its and the forest’s renewal. During lunch we were serenaded by a trombonist and clarinetist. Like I’ve said, Seattle is a beautiful place! 
At the Low Income Housing Institute complex we did yard work and cleanup while chatting it up with the children who live there. This was a place for families who have been displaced or in need a of some new start. It was a challenge but we put our hearts into it and spruced everything up rather nicely. 
We also redistributed a large pile of cedar chips delivered at Our Lady of Guadalupe in their Prayer Garden. Less a chore and more a chance to socialize in the field! I may make a prayer garden at my home, it was such a quiet place over looking downtown.
We did do some thorough sightseeing as well. To anyone who has not been to Seattle you will not forget this PV experience.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Thank You, Seattle!

This past week was a wonderful week of service, community and reflection for the PVs in Seattle. The days were full, the weather was great, and by the end of the week I think we all were a good tired. Thank you to the organizations we worked with, for your hospitality and inspiring work. Below is a list of the organizations and links to their sites so you can read about the amazing work they do all year. If you are in Seattle and interested in helping out, please let me know and I can link you up. And finally, thank you to the volunteers who joined us and for all those who have supported us. You are the best!

Community Meal - The community meal is a monthly, free sit-down meal held at OLG (Our Lady of Guadalupe) in the Walmesley Center/Gymnasium. Everyone in the community is invited to attend. It is conducted ‘restaurant style’ where the guests are served at their tables. The goal is to provide a hot meal once a month for those in our community, in particular for those who may not regularly have a hot meal. Inviting the whole community provides a way for all of us to share a meal and conversation together. OLG receives additional volunteers from other West Seattle churches and service groups (youth and adult).

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.

Nature Consortium - Nature Consortium is a grassroots, community-based organization whose mission is to connect people, arts and nature. We produce a Youth Art Program, an Urban Forest Restoration Program and the Arts in Nature Festival.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Peace Garden -  It is a place to grow produce for Lettuce Pray, a local program that donates fresh produce to the White Center and West Seattle Food Banks during the growing season. In addition, a labyrinth has been constructed to provide a place of prayer and reflection for not only our parish but for the larger community.

Operation Sack Lunch - Sack Lunch is a meal and basic necessities provider serving the un-housed, no and low income, food insecure children, women, and men, who call Seattle their home. We are a grassroots project that began in 1989 with 30 lunches in the kitchen of founder, Singer / Song Writer, Beverly Graham.

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.

Low Income Housing Institute - The Low Income Housing Institute develops, owns and operates housing for the benefit of low-income, homeless and formerly homeless people in Washington state; advocates for just housing policies at the local and national levels; and administers a range of supportive service programs to assist those we serve in maintaining stable housing and increasing their self-sufficiency.

Westside Baby - We are the only social service agency in West King county area that collects, inspects and distributes free diapers, clothing, cribs and safety gear for babies and children. More than 120 local social service agencies, including shelters and food banks, rely upon us to provide critical necessities for low-income families.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Seattle Friday - Service and the LWP Potluck

Today was a busy day. We spent the day working at Westside Baby in White Center. Originally the plan was to help to dismantle car seats for recycling, but after a small electrical fire at their facility last week, they moved locations across the street. While everything was moved by the time we arrived yesterday, they needed help sorting the baby and clothes. It was nice to see so many great clothes donated. We each took a picture with our favorite outfits. Midway through our sorting an expected semi-truck full of diapers arrived. The staff came from high and low to help unload and we joined in. 45 minutes later we had moved 2,400 boxes of donated diapers.

When we finished at WS Baby we headed north for the PV Potluck. It was a wonderful night celebrating the PVs and friendships. Thank you to the more than 30 people who came to "be a part of it!" Your generosity and kindness is much appreciated.

The 2015 PV Seattle week was a wonderful experience with new sites and continuing to build relationships which we worked with in past year. Each year the PVs become more and more a part of the Seattle Community.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Seattle Thursday

Today was an early day for us, as we had to be at the Union Gospel Mission in downtown by 7am to help with breakfast service as well as help to prep for a special graduation dinner that they would be having this evening. I was great to work alongside several of the men that are currently in the program and to hear their stories. After we finished at the gospel mission we headed over to the Pike Place Market to grab some breakfast before going on our afternoon site.

In the afternoon we worked with Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) an organization that works with housing issues across the board from homelessness, shelters, transitional housing and affordable housing. Today we helped do some yard work at a transitional housing complex for families with children. We did a little mowing and raking to get the complex ready for the spring and summer seasons. Several of the children who live in the complex were trying to lend a hand wherever they could.

This evening we took advantage of a sunny, warm evening and had a beach fire down on Alki Beach, complete with a hot dog roast and smores. We were even serenaded by some young folks at the fire next to us, playing Amazing Grace for us.