Jul 20

Serve Others With All Your Heart

If you really want to receive joy and happiness, then serve others with all your heart. Lift their burden, and your own burden will be lighter.  -Ezra Taft Benson

Today was the finally day of the PVs summer program in Wyoming County, West Virginia.  While packing up and moving our supplies was part of the day, we were able to do a couple of additional activities. It was distribution day at the Itmann Food Bank so volunteers went there to help. They ended up helping over 350 families receive food, housewares and clothing. They helped pack the boxes, bring them out to the car and helped with housewares. In the afternoon volunteers went to play Banana Bingo with the residents at Glen Rogers Manor. They had another great turnout and had a lot of fun.

Since it is the last night and all our plates and food and such are gone, we went out to dinner to Macadoos to celebrate. Before we went we did our closing reflection. We had a great final week to wrap up a great summer. We met amazing people and have memories that will carry us into the new year. Look for a video montage of the whole summer in the coming weeks.

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Jul 19

One Person Can Change the World

One friend, one person who is truly understanding, who takes the trouble to  listen to us as we consider a problem, can change our whole outlook on the world.  – E.H. Mayoli

Today was the last day of home repair projects for the West Virginia Summer Program. Luckily the weather cooperated with us this week so we were able to finish up our projects. Today we put the finishing touches both on the porch in Stephensen and the bathroom in Alpoca Bottom. Both projects went great and the home owners were very happy with the results.

We had a third crew go work with the kids at Energy Express. This was the last day that we will be sending volunteers to the program. All summer long the volunteers had a great experience working with the program and the staff was so welcoming and supportive of having the PVs come and join with them. The Energy Express Summer Program has one more week of programming for the kids.

When the crew from Energy Express came back to The Way they took on some projects including installing light fixtures, ceiling fans, washing the windows and stocking the food back shelves. We like to try and do some projects to give back to The Way to thank them for their hospitality.

Since we will be packing up our stuff tomorrow, today was clean out the refrigerator night for dinner. We had a smorgasbord of yummy food, leftovers from the week and some new creations with the leftovers. It was a very yummy and creative  meal.

Reflection tonight was centered on the story of the Good Samaritan and helping our neighbors. We were asked to reflect on who our neighbors are and to reflect on a new definition of neighbor.

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Jul 18

Touch a Life

If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. If you want to touch the future, touch a life.  -Author Unknown

We had another great day, which for the most part the rain held off for. Both home repair sites, the one in Stephensen and the one in Alpoca Bottom, were almost finished. Tomorrow we will go back for just a few finishing touches at each. The group this week has been working hard and we have been able to get where we need to be to wrap up the summer program at the end of the week.

We also had a group go to the United Methodish Church in Mullens to help out with their Annual Rummage Sale. The volunteers helped go through clothing and were also able to help prepare for an upcoming bible school at the church. At the end of the day they helped to load up the clothing that was left so it could be donated to the thrift store here at The Way and St. Vincent dePaul.

We had a bake potato bar for dinner tonight with all the fixings (chili, cheese sour cream, olives, broccoli), salad and blueberry muffins.

Reflection tonight was on family, home and how those ideas relate to our lives as PVs. We were each given a quote to reflect on while listening to music and then share any thoughts on the topic.

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Jul 17

Generosity

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.  – Simone Weil

We had another great day working in the beautiful mountains of wild, wonderful West Virginia. Great progress was made at the porch site in Stephensen. The decking is done, the steps are installed and the rafters are put up for the roof. The group was blessed with an overcast day for most of the day keep the heat a little in check.

Work also continued at the bathroom site in Alpoca Bottom. The volunteers were able to install shower walls to an area that previous was covered only by a curtain, a new shower head and begin to cut the underlayment for the floor. We should be able to wrap up this site tomorrow.

A couple of PVs spent their morning at Energy Express in Mullens. Today there was a guest speaker, Ranger Matt and his dog friend, from the Army Corp of Engineers to talk about water safety with the kids. All the kids were also given a bag of goodies. After the talk they went into their groups and made slime and volcanoes. The volunteers had a great time.

We had another great dinner tonight. Pasta with vegetables and breaded eggplant for the vegetarian and a beef and veggie stir-fry for the meat eaters. These dishes were served with a salad and pound cake and berries for dessert. Yummy yummy!

We had a relaxing reflection tonight. Soft music was played and we were led through a series of stretches to ease our sore muscles and then we each shared a new and good from the day.

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Jul 16

Seeing, Listening, Feeling

Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.  – Alfred Adler

New week, new volunteers. We sadly sad goodbye to last week’s crew on Saturday morning, only to say “hello” to a whole new group on Sunday. Everyone arrived safely and just in time for a welcoming spaghetti dinner, reorientation and commissioning. With travel and so much packed in to a short period of time it was an early night for everyone.

After a good night’s sleep everyone was up early and raring to go this morning. We started the building process at the site in Stephensen where last week the volunteers did some demolition and prepared the area. Because of all their hard work the volunteers were able to jump right in and start building the porch right away. They made great progress today with the frame the posts and the majority of the deck boards.

The other site we had today was in Alpoca Bottom, an area where we have worked previously, but not on this house. We were asked to fix a bathroom floor that was falling in. As with any flooring we weren’t quite sure what we would need until the existing floor was removed. Once that all happened and supplies were able to be delivered, the group made great progress. Besides getting the floor repaired, we were able to fix her toilet. It had been leaking for some time, to the point where she turned the water off to it and had been flushing with a bucket of water to save on her water bill. That small thing will make a huge difference.

For dinner tonight we had a good old fashioned cook-out with brat burgers (thanks Leo!), veggie burgers, beans, pasta salad and green salad. It was all delicious!!

When we gathered for the evening reflection, we were asked to share what sparked our interest in initially getting involved with volunteering and what continues to feed that spark. It is always so interesting to hear what started everyone’s journey as a PV.

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Jul 13

I Can Do My Bit

I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.   -Charles de Lint

I can’t believe another week is winding down and we are getting ready to say goodbye to another great group of PVs volunteers. Before we say goodbye though, we had a full day of activities!  A couple of PVs went out to Kopperston to finish up with that site. We only had a small place to sand and a ceiling to paint and that site was done. The home owners were very happy with their new kitchen floor and cabinet as well as their repaired and painting bedroom. Being able to meet the home owners and spend time with them made the drive out there worth it.

Another group went back to Energy Express for another fun day of working with the kids. We were so happy to be able to send a large group pretty much each day this week. The stories the volunteers have shared about their time with the kids and the teachers show what an impact that program is having.

A third group went to help with furniture distribution at St. Vincent dePaul. People came in during the morning to pick up donated items that they had signed up for as well as items to build a chicken coop, a special project that SVDP is offering. While the volunteers were waiting between customers, they tackled organizing and going through more of the areas where we store our items in the off- season. Because of the work they did today, when moving day rolls around it will be a much simpler task. When the group finished they made a stop to visit with the home owners they built the ramp for earlier in the week. They were able to see the finished product as well as say goodbye to the couple.

In the afternoon visiting continued as a group went to visit old friends up in Cabin Creek. It is one of the things that makes the PVs unique, the continuing relationships that we build with the home owners we work for. We try to make time for and encourage visiting each year. I never know who is happier to see each other the PVs of the people they are visiting.

Also in the afternoon, PVs went to Glen Rogers Manor to play Banana BINGO with the residents. The turnout was great and they could wait to win so they could win a banana!

For dinner tonight we had a pasta bar with several different types of pasta a sauces, salad and garlic bread. It was simple, but simply delicious! For dessert we had Chocolate Chip ice cream sandwiches made with homemade cookies. Yum, yum.

We wrapped up the evening with our closing reflection, looking back on the week and all of the experiences we shared. It was a good week. A lot of great work was done, but more importantly a lot of love and kindness was shared, both here in the PV community and the community as a whole.

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Jul 12

Make Things Better

When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishments that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.  -Pauline R Kezer

We had our first significant rain today, but luckily it held off until after we got done what we needed to get done at our outdoor site. The site in Stephensen is cleared out and ready to start building the porch and roof next week. Big thanks to all who worked here this week. It was a hot and dirty site, but now next week’s volunteers will be off and running Monday.

The other home repair site from the day was a two-fer. The group put more mud on the newly fixed bedroom ceiling in Kopperston and then when it was drying went to put the finishing touches on the ramp in Pineville. After a quick lunch they went back to Kopperston. Unfortunately the mud was not dried yet so they decided to paint the walls instead and go back tomorrow for a quick sand and ceiling painting job.

We had a large group go to Energy Express this morning to work with the kids. As always, they had a great time both with the kids and the staff.

On the menu tonight was an enchilada bake and Mexican potatoes. It was all very tasty. For those that have never been a part of the PV community, each night different volunteers sign up to make dinner for the rest of the group. They get to choose what is made, go shopping for the meal and make it. We always end up with a nice assortment of meals and get to try new things so it is a win win for all!

Tonight’s reflection was on prayer. Different ideas of prayer and how we pray, especially with our actions while we are working as PV Volunteers.

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Jul 11

To Give Real Service

To give real service, you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money. – Douglas Adams

Today was a busy and productive day for the community of PVs in Wyoming County. A group of volunteers went to help out at Energy Express again this morning. This kids at the program were treated to a basketball team coming in and working with the kids. As a result there was a lot of time spent in the gym running around and in turn tiring out the volunteers : )

We returned to the site in Kopperston to put the finishing touches on the kitchen before moving on to the bedroom. A few years ago a tree fell on the house and damaged the roof and ceiling. The roof was fixed earlier this summer, so we are trying to help patch the ceiling and making the room look like new. The volunteers have been doing a great job at this site all week.

We also returned to the ramp site in Pineville to finish installing the railings and to figure out how to transition the ramp to the driveway the smoothest. After some collective thought and discussion there is a plan!

Today also marked the beginning of a new site in Stephensen, just on the eastern edge of the county. We were asked if we could build a porch and porch roof to replace the existing one that was damaged extensively in a hail storm a few years back.  Before we can do the build however, we had to remove the existing porch.  Since we did have some over head work, we required the volunteers to where hard hats today and am happy to say there were no injuries or mishaps, just some really hot weather. They took down the roof today, while an important first step, it also took any sort of available shade to them. We will continue with the deconstruction tomorrow.

For dinner tonight we had a delicious Chicken and Broccoli dish served over rice and for the vegetarians tuna noodle casserole (thanks Peggy!)  For dessert… brownies : )

Continuing on the theme of reflecting on a word for reflection, tonight we reflected on truth. What is our truth, what is a truth that may have either be enforced or changed by our experiences as a PV.

Another great day in the books!

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Jul 10

Light a Lamp

If you light a lamp for someone else it will also brighten your path.  – Buddha

It was another hot and humid day in southern West Virginia again today. It seems to be more humid than in previous summers. We have been lucky in the rain department though, we have managed to make it through most days without much precipitation.

Enough about the weather…. the PVs were busy today! We had a crew up in Kopperston continuing with the kitchen. Today they were able to finish tiling and to install a new cabinet and sink. The kitchen looks brand new, like from one of the makeover shows : )

Anther home repair crew was right down the road in Pineville continuing on their work on the ramp. The family recently moved to this house and need the ramp to be able to get the dad of the house out to the car. He suffered a stroke 12 years ago in the mines and as a result is paralyzed on one side. It is nice knowing how much this project will help not only him, but his wife who is the one has to move him around.

We always like to have a couple of non-home repair options for volunteers and today we had two. We sent volunteers back to Energy Express to help with the kids there. The volunteers that went today had a blast and have plans of returning. The other group went to St. Vincent dePaul to help to distribute the furniture, beds and other donated items that the group organized yesterday. When they had down time between people coming in the spent time helping to organize the PV tool closet there.  Both these groups after their sites were done stopped in at the ramp site to help but in floor boards.

We had a delicious “breakfast for dinner” dinner tonight. Tonight’s menu included pancakes, pancakes with blueberries, french toast, cheesy eggs, eggs with veggies and home fries. Everything was delicious!

Reflection tonight centered around peace and how we find peace. We were also led through some breathing and relaxation exercises.  It was a very peaceful reflection.

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Jul 09

Small Acts

Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.  – Howard Zinn

A new week means a new group of volunteers eager to get working and do their part to make our world a little kinder and a little gentler. Volunteers arrived yesterday afternoon eager to begin their work. We shared dinner together, got reoriented to what the week would entail, had our commissioning service and signed up for sites. Which leads us to today…

We had a busy day today with volunteers heading to four different places in the morning. We had a crew go to Energy Express and help out with the kids in the literacy and feeding program that is being held this summer. The volunteers that went had gone a couple of years ago and enjoyed being back again.

Another group of PVs went to St. Vincent dePaul to help organize the warehouse so it will be ready to distribute the items to those that signed up. They spent the day organizing, inventorying, and cleaning up so it is all ready.

We also started two new home repair sites today. We started building a ramp for a family in Pineville and started working with a family in Kopperston helping to patch some holes in their kitchen floor. Both these sites will continue tomorrow.

For dinner tonight we had hamburgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers on the grill, baked beans and tater tots. It was a classic summer and classic PV meal to start off the week.

Reflection tonight was about finding joy in the little things. We were asked to share where we found joy during the day.

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