For the Presbytery of South Louisiana, the Fall isn’t marked by the change in temperature (unless you’re talking about tropical storms). But we know it’s Fall when a new class of Young Adult Volunteers arrive – with cars loaded to the brim and huge appetites ready to devour all things creole, jazz, and humid.
[From left to right:]
Laura Ek [Beachside, MD]: Laura is serving with J.W. Johnson Elementary School as a Garden Coordinator, developing curriculum and projects for teachers, students and community members to experience and develop a love for gardening, fresh produce, and respect for creation. Laura is also serving part-time as an AmeriCorps volunteer through Project Homecoming with her fellow YAVs. In addition to her love of gardening, Laura enjoys yoga, journaling and anthropology (the field, not the clothing store).
Eric Lipka [Matthews, NC]: Eric is a Work Site Manager at Project Homecoming, where he will train, supervise and work alongside volunteer teams who continue to lend their time and talents to rebuilding homes and lives impacted by Hurricane Katrina. Project Homecoming is also building new homes to be made available to low-income families. Eric is an avid ultimate frisbee player, and he hopes to pursue medical studies after his YAV year.
Ashley Bair [Lansing, MI]: Ashley also works with Project Homecoming, sharing her time and talents between hosting volunteers at Olive Tree and the supporting the staff at the Project Homecoming main office. Olive Tree is where week-long volunteers rest, eat and reflect on their service experiences. Project Homecoming began is a ministry of our presbytery and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and it is now a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose development, Ashley will support. Ashley is an accomplished musician and artist, and all the YAV girls would love to have her curls.
Jillian Manning [Greensburg, PA]: Jillian is serving two organizations – Mid-City Ministries and Global Maritime Ministries. Jillian will service children and youth through Mid-City Ministries, which offers after-school tutoring, ACT prep courses, and character development programs through Carrollton Ave. Church of Christ. Jillian will support Global Maritime Ministries to meet the “spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of seafarers and maritime workers.” In the future, Jillian hopes to incorporate her love for horses and equestrian sports within the social work & counseling field.
Lauren Wright [Signal Mountain, TN]: Lauren will continue the work of previous YAVs at the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology [C.H.A.R.T.], whose work and research supports communities of south Louisiana and the environment vulnerabilities we face. Lauren will help develop tools and social media opportunities for providing education on the issues surrounding the vanishing coastal wetlands and the communities impacted by the devastating loss. In three weeks’ time, the YAV Program has asked Lauren to go from Tennessee, to New Orleans, to New York, to New Orleans, to Colorado, and finally back to New Orleans. We are happy to have her be in one climate and terrain for an extended period of time!
Allison Wehrung [Davidson, NC]: Allison is filling the role as the Chaplain’s assistant at Ochsner Health Systems. Allison will visit patients, family and staff of the hospital to extend a ministry of presence, prayer, and emotional and spiritual care. Allison served as a YAV in Nashville last year through Vanderbilt’s campus ministry, and is continuing to discern her calling to seminary and ordained ministry. In addition to making coffee in the mornings, another one of Allison’s many gifts to the intentional community is her extensive DVD collection.
Emma Wood [Elizabeth City, NC]: A returning PSL YAV, Emma will continue her role at Chinese Presbyterian Church in Kenner, LA. Emma will continue to support Christian education programs offered to children and youth of the church and its surrounding community, and to support the outreach to the Chinese immigrant population in the Greater New Orleans area. Emma helps leads English as a second language classes, trips to the Chinese market for international students at Tulane/Loyola University, and special events for the congregation and the community. Emma has a passion for writing, youth education, cats and local upcoming hip-hop artist, Lil’ Wayne.
The Prebsytery of South Louisiana is thankful for all of the families, friends, congregations, pastors and mentors who have helped develop and encourage hearts for Christ and service in these YAVs. We are blessed by their presence, their gifts and the signs of hope they offer to our community. Please continue to lift up the program and the YAVs in your prayers as they develop an intentional Christian community with one another to strengthen their faith and love for all of God’s people.
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