It was like a family reunion in New Jersey this weekend. Volunteers from the greater NY/NJ/PA area gathered to reminisce about old times, catch up on each others lives, and talk about the future of the program. While the temperatures were on the cooler side and we just missed a snowstorm that came through a day before, we had blue skies and sunshine. Of course this meant after meeting for a little while, we took a trek down to the ocean in Bradley Beach to take in the beauty.
In the evening we took a short drive to Wall where we were joined by more PVs and were treated to a wonderful evening of food, friendship and fellowship. It is always wonderful to reconnect with volunteers. It is really amazing how we live our own lives most of the year, but that one connection of being a PV is so strong that when we see each other it is as no time has passed.
We cannot thank enough our hosts for the weekend, Wayne and Jo. Between the two of them, they house us, they feed us and welcome us with warmth and the most wonderful hospitality. We would not be able to have this weekend without them.
Thank you to everyone who came. You made the weekend special!!!
On the Saturday morning before we headed down to West Virginia for NIU’s Spring Break Trip, the PVs helped build beds for families in need in Northern Kentucky. “Build A Dream” is a project of the Safety Net Alliance of Northern Kentucky created to shine a light on the hundreds of children in the community that are sleeping on floors and to increase awareness of the need for bed donations.
The beds were built from pre-cut lumber, and came with new, twin-sized mattresses and bedding. The whole project included building 100 beds and involved over 100 volunteers.
The five PVs were responsible for delivery and assembly to two homes, building 5 beds. We had a wonderful experience. The families were so grateful for the beds and bedding and seeing the excitement of the kids for their new beds was everything. At one of the sites, the teenage boy worked along side us building his bed. He told us he was so excited to take a nap later on his new bed.
Kudos to the Safety Net Alliance of Northern Kentucky and the sponsors for a well run volunteer event and for providing so many beds to kids in need.
In serving others we discover a lot about ourselves. This sentiment was echoed many times this week by the students from NIU. They wrapped up their week of service helping with Distribution Day at the Itmann Food Bank. They were each assigned a task at the beginning of the day including checking people in, distributing books and running carts of food to people’s cars. They were able to interact with the residents and the local volunteers.
After they wrapped up at the Food Bank the group decided to go exploring the beautiful landscapes of Wyoming County. They hiked up to the overlook in Mullens and explored further in Twin Falls State Park. After the week that they had, they enjoyed the sunshine a warmer temperatures.
After the exploring, we all gathered together for dinner and a closing reflection up at Twin Falls. It is always wonderful and inspiring to hear about the week and how the experience changed and affected everyone. The group was quite impressive. Not only were they willing to do anything that was asked of them, they were flexible when we had to keep changing plans due to weather, and they did it all with joy and laughter. The Newman Center at NIU should be proud of the group they put together this year.
We also wanted to thank all those who welcomed us and help set up our service activities for the week. Thank you to Made New Church/They Way for allowing us to stay with you and for the wonderful dinner on Wednesday night. To Arnie and Kathy for providing the students the chance to work at the Itmann Food with you. To Debbie for providing the home repair site and for providing the service day at St. Vincent dePaul. We would also like to thank Dan for volunteering to head up the home repair project for the week and for sharing all your knowledge and presence with everyone. It truly takes a village to make it all work.
Come back for more pics….
Finally, the weather cooperated… We awoke this morning to sunshine and warmer temperatures. The schools were not delayed or canceled, so five students were able to go to Head Start and spend time with the kids. We are very thankful to Wyoming County Head Start for allowing the students to spend part of their week with them. They always have the best stories of their time with the kids and teachers.
The rest of the group went to Wyco to finish up the ramp. The sunshine and warmer weather led to jackets being taken off, hats and gloves removed and a much more pleasant work experience. The ramp ended up looking great and more importantly is sturdy as can be. Not only will it help the home owner get in and out of his house, but it will make life easier on his caregivers who often take him to doctors appointments and the like and had to carry him down the steps. We all really enjoyed working with the family and look forward to coming back and visiting.
For a record third day (at least for a PV-NIU spring break trip), we woke up to more snow. Schools were canceled, therefore Head Start was canceled….again. And again, we called on everyone to be flexible and as always, everyone was. We had planned for a small group to go to the Food Bank to help with some data entry that needed to be done and well and put the final touches on organizing for distribution day.
The Head Start crew joined the home repair crew for a snowy day of work on the ramp. We delayed starting for an hours to let the highways clear, but there was still plenty of snow on the ground and on our ramp build. No only that, but it snowed quite a bit during the day. One of the students mentioned at one point it felt like we were in a snow globe, and there couldn’t have been a better description. Luckily everyone was more than will to be cold to get as much work done as we could so that we can make sure to finish it for the home owner by the end of the week.
After sites we were all treated to a wonderful dinner by the Made New Community, who make The Way their home. They had mentioned that they wanted to do a cookout to thank the students for spending their spring break serving others. We thought they were crazy with the weather, but it was delicious and it was a wonderful evening spent in fellowship.
Even with an inch or so of snow overnight and flurries during the work day, everything was able to go off as planned. Three volunteers happily made their way to Bailyesville Head Start for a day with the kids. Even though Bailyesville Head Start is not the closest for the group to go, NIU has built a wonderful relationship with the teachers over the past several years and are always eager to go see the teachers and students.
A second group of students went to St. Vincent dePaul in Pineville to help with several projects. Their main focus for the day was to sort through hundreds of envelopes of seed and organized them so they can be distributed at the Food Bank on distribution day. The hope with the seed project is that families will be able to have their own gardens and grow their own produce. After they finished up with the seeds, they did some cleaning in the building.
The third group went to our home repair site in Lynco. Having missed yesterday we were a little worried about being able to finish up before the end of the week, but we made a ton of progress today, framing most of the ramp. Here is a slide show of the progress:
One of the most important traits of being a PV is to be flexible and today the NIU students were VERY flexible. We woke in the morning to the news that the schools would be closed due to weather, therefore no Head Start. Next was the news that the roads were snowy and slippery in parts of the county delaying the delivery of the lumber for our home repair site. This coupled with the fact that it was cold and snowy meant no home repair site. The one planned site of the day that continued as planned was the painting of the floor at the Itmann Food Bank. The whole group ended up going to the Food Bank and lending a hand in this task, as well as organizing and prepping for distribution day on Friday. Again we appreciate everyone’s flexibility and willingness to go with the flow. Tomorrow’s weather looks to be better. Still some snow showers foretasted and colder, but definitely weather we can work with!
Our morning attempt to go to the lumber store. Over the river and through the wood…
The students beginning the big project of painting the Itmann Food Bank floor