Watching the TV news, it’s easy to curse the darkness. We see the worst in people, magnified, and the sensational trumps the hidden heartfelt stories of personal kindness.

For me, working with the PVs is a way to light candles. We let in a little hope, a little kindness, a little dignity where it’s been absent. In return, we receive light back: Sometimes that makes us feel happy that we’ve helped, but other times the light shines on the parts of us that tend to judge or label. And there’s a place for both kinds of light.

I read a powerful quote today about the force of poverty, written by someone who has lived it:

“Poverty breeds stress. Stress destroys one’s body, and sickness is expensive. More expenses, more doctor bills, more poverty. Poverty sucks, but what it sucks is the very life out of one’s soul. Poverty steals our expectations. Poverty pushes us to desperation.”

—Gayle B. Tate

Each summer we offer hope and a sign that people do care. We patch walls and replace roofs, but we listen too. I find these conversations often stay with me throughout the year. When I get frustrated with the challenges of life, I remember strangers who quickly became friends, opening up to me in their homes and sharing the sadness and struggles they’ve faced.

Our sons have grown up as PVs, and for me that’s been the best part of the experience. They look at the world differently, and they’ve seen that we can change the world, even if it’s by lighting one candle at a time.

-Joanne Camas

Joanne, her husband Paul, and her four children have been coming to West Virginia each summer since 2000. Her youngest son celebrated is first birthday in WV. Joanne serves on the PV Board of Directors and is very active with our fundraising and development.