Last week, 11 PVs converged on Aurora, IL for a week of service and a very special project. During the week volunteers worked with Hesed House, first helping with their annual “Hike for Hesed” and then by providing, preparing and serving lunch for more than 100 people. Ahead of the week, volunteers planned the meal and purchased the food so they would be ready to go when it was time to prepare and serve. While there, they got a tour of Hesed House and met a lot of wonderful and inspiring people. Hesed House has been a part of the PV Aurora Week since we started it 5 years ago.
The big project of the week was building a wheelchair ramp for a family in Aurora. The family includes an 18 year son who is in a wheelchair and a father who is blind. They have an electric wheelchair lift to get into the house, but the lift does not always work and the family often has to wait for hours in their car until help can come. We witnessed the failure of the lift while we were there and the son returned home from school and wanted to get into the house. The process which should take a couple of minutes ended up taking a longer as the lift did not want to work. The ramp that the volunteers were building during the week will give the son a lot more freedom and his mom a lot less worry. While we have done ramps many times in West Virginia, this ramp was a whole new challenge as we were working in a city with codes, permits and inspections, not to mention a limited amount of time. With a lot of prep work planning and organizing and volunteers willing to work longer hours than our usual PV day, we were able to get through the second of three inspections and get all but the last stretch of deck boards down and the railing tops installed. The ramp is in great hands for finishing touches, as the family and their friends were working alongside the PVs the whole time and will be able to finish the project. A big thank you to the family and friends for not only working alongside us, but for providing us with lunch each day and well as cold water on the hot days!
We will post more pictures as we get them, but enjoy a few from the last few days.
You made have noticed our website went down for the better part of two days. The glitch has been fixed, but there is a lot of catching up to do. The Aurora program wrapped up today with a long and productive day at the ramp site. I will share pictures and more about the whole experience in the upcoming days.
Thanks for your patience!!!
The PVs spent the day today working on the ramp that is our big project for the week. We got the go ahead from the inspector to continue on after he checked to make sure the holes were deep enough. The majority of the rest of the day was spent installing, securing and leveling all the posts that will be needed to support the ramp. It may sound like a fairly simple project, but it is a really time consuming process. But as usual the PV team worked together well, all lending a hand to do whatever was needed. Tomorrow the framing process will start and the ramp will begin to take shape.
For dinner tonight we enjoyed the fruits of a volunteer’s garden in Iowa and locally (Iowa) made sausage. It was a great meal topped off with delicious brownies.
After the dishes were done and a game of Bananagrams was played, we gathered for reflection. Tonight we reflected on the face of Moses and shared something or someone that we Jesus in today.
PVs putting on their muddy shoes, ready for a day of hard work
It takes a community effort to make sure the posts are just right
The final post being leveled and secured
Today was a day for the PV history books. Even though it was a Sunday, it was technically the third day of the service week, so actually went on a home repair site! But don’t let me get ahead of myself… We started off the day with a wonderful Mass at St. Rita’s and then come back to prepare for a luncheon at Bruce and Susan’s. They have become friendly with an extended family of people who came to the area from Africa as refugees. We shared a wonderful lunch together (all 30 of us!!!) and shared in fellowship and song.
In the early afternoon we got a head start on the big project for the week, the wheelchair ramp. Because we are in the city limits of Aurora we will be following all the permit and code laws that are asked of us, and this included having to have all 16 of our posts 4 feet underground. Today we dug….. We rented an auger to help drill the deep holes, but there was plenty of human power needed to both run the auger and remove the loose dirt from the holes. It was hot and sweaty work, but it was made all the more enjoyable working alongside the family. At one point the ice cream man came down the street and the home owner had him pull into her driveway so she could treat us all to a refreshing snack. It was what we all needed to get refreshed and pushed forward with the job. At about 6:30 we had them all dug and ready for the inspector to check them out in the morning. Now you folks you have been in West Virginia are probably thinking, we usually stop at 4, well this was a strange workday with our big meal at noon and then being at the site from 3-6:30. We always say flexibility is an important part of being a PV : ) There are a lot of tired and sore PVs tonight in Aurora.
The Aurora PVs all arrived safely last night and after a community meal and commissioning we were all ready for the adventure that is ahead.
We awoke early this morning to go help with Hesed House’s annual fundraising walk/hike. The PVs helped to set up the welcoming area and then were given different tasks from being out on the the hike holding signs sharing all the wonderful things that Hesed House does in the community, taking pictures of the many hikers and even giving the participating dogs a special goodie bag. At the end of the day we helped to tear everything down. By all accounts it was a successful event, raising the most money in the 13 years they have been doing the event.
In the afternoon we went to the site where we will be building a ramp this week. We needed to lay out the ramp and get it ready to start to build. It is going to be quite a project, but we are excited to help the family.
For dinner tonight we had a yummy tuna noodle casserole, corn on the cob (fresh of the Schletzbaum farm) and a delicious raspberry dessert. Yummy, yummy!!
We wrapped up the evening with a reflection on healing, how we were healed today or something we needed help in healing.
Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead
Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow
Just walk beside me and be my friend
If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
Nothing is more important than empathy for another human being’s suffering. Nothing—not career, not wealth, not intelligence, certainly not status. We have to feel for one another if we’re going to survive with dignity.
It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of live, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.
Hubert H Humphrey