Created by the General Assembly, the YAV program was designed to offer young adults unique experiences that would foster maturity and develop strong leaders in the church. In the previous two years, the Gulfcoast YAV program placed volunteers in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina and Rita. This year, as families and neighborhoods continue the struggle of rebuilding and redeveloping once flourishing livelihoods, the YAV program will maintain its dedication to assisting them.
As of the beginning of August, I have started my journey as the new YAV site coordinator and look forward to being a part of this ministry and the larger framework of God’s kingdom. The YAV program will be centralized in the city of New Orleans, allowing the volunteers a better opportunity to live and support each other as a community. I am highly anticipating the arrival of the four volunteers who will be living and serving for the year in areas that include disaster recovery and congregational redevelopment and renewal.
Alicia Weber, from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, will be serving as a Christian education assistant at Lakeview Presbyterian Church. Alex Marino, from Cupertino, California will serve as a construction assistant and case manager at Project Homecoming. Duncan Cheney, from Fort Scott, Kansas, will also be a construction assistant at Project Homecoming, and Rose Fields, from Goddard, Kansas, will serve as part of Chinese Presbyterian Church’s outreach and youth ministry, as well as youth mission trip coordinator for Project Homecoming.
In addition to their work, the volunteers will meet weekly to reflect on their experiences, vocational call and faith journey. I will also be guiding them through specific topics of interest, whether it is financial responsibilities, race and poverty, violence and conflict, interpersonal relationships or vocational discernment. Our dialogues and reflections will take place throughout the year in forms of team gatherings, one-on-one meetings and seasonal retreats. As our experience with the YAV program and New Orleans unfolds, we hope you will continue to remember us in your prayers.
I know the taste and aroma of New Orleans cuisine will quickly become a favorite for the volunteers, and I pray that the people and hearts of New Orleans will soon become their family as well. As a native of New Orleans, this city has been my home and has offered me memories that could not be found anywhere else in the world. I find it miraculous that even in the midst of the destruction and disorder that still permeates after the storm and from a deep history of socio-economic divide, people have not given up hope. This determination can only come from the love of God, who has called these servants to dwell and be a light that shines in New Orleans.
“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them” Hebrews 6:10.