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“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life.’ ” —John 6:35

Young Adult Volunteers
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Young Adult Volunteers
(800) 728-7228, x5024
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Phases of the YAV Program


Photograph of Jessica and Kevin Crossan.

Some YAVs come in pairs (Jessica and Kevin Crossan). Photo by Shannon Langley

Young adults apply to the program by completing an online application.  A complete application includes the following:

  • Online profile account
  • A supplemental personal profile.
  • Three forms of reference (pastoral, professional, and personal).
  • A signed sexual misconduct policy form.
  • A worshiping community endorsement form.

Discernment Model vs. Selection Model
YAV application is designed as a mutual discernment model.  Our goal is to assist young adults as they try to discern God’s call to service. The focus is not selling the program, but rather asking some defining questions that will help the applicants determine the direction in which God is calling them. We ask that applicants be open to this process and explore what God is calling them to be. We ask that they read through the site descriptions and be open to different opportunities. We also ask that applicants research the sites on their own, for example through reading the YAV blogs.

Intake Interview
Once these forms are complete, the applicant  will have a phone conversation with the Young Adult Volunteer Program staff. This conversation is designed to allow staff to get to know applicants, learn more about their gifts and interests and begin the process of discernment.

Informational Conversations (national only)
Upon the completion of intake interview, any applicants considering national sites will be referred for informational conversations.  These conversations are conducted by individual site coordinators who will answer any questions about their specific site.  Once the informational conversations are completed, the applicant contacts the YAV office to request for formal interviews with the sites of interest. 

Site representatives conduct conversations with the YAV candidate and make placement decisions based on these discussions. Using the concept of community discernment, the goal of this process is to find the right match for both the site and the volunteer. Volunteers will be matched with a placement site that will use their unique skills, abilities and interests. Some sites may ask for specific skills and others may look for the right education or personality match. Placements at each site generally change from year to year. These changes are based on both the needs of the communities and the particular skills each volunteer has to offer. As the needs of communities and resources to the program shift, some of the particular places of sites may change, but the elements of the program remain the same.

Applicants who are considering INTERNATIONAL placements will need to attend Discernment Event to help them discern where they will serve. 

NATIONAL placements are made once an applicant has finished all phone interviews with the sites of interest.  

Each YAV will be responsible for raising a small portion of the cost for their year of service. The amount of money to be raised varies based on the site. Further explanation of fundraising will be covered once volunteers receive their specific site placements. Fundraising can be a rewarding form ministry. It helps connect volunteers with people who can become a great support not only financially, but spiritually as well. Volunteers are encouraged to maintain communication with their supporters throughout the year through blogs and other forms of contact.

Photograph of Sean Kerr.

And some YAV come single (Sean Kerr). Photo by Shannon Langley

Find out more about raising support to become a YAV.

All YAVs are required to attend national orientation.  At orientation, YAVs build a sense of community, learn skills and tools for use during their term of service, prepared for cross-cultural exchange, build enthusiasm for their ministry, and worship and pray together. Volunteers also receive site specific training and orientation upon arrival at their site. 

Support during service
During the year, the Young Adult Volunteer will receive support from their peers, the site coordinator, their placement supervisor, the communities in which they live and serve, the Presbyterian Mission Agency staff offices, friends, family and churches. They also participate in vocational discernment.

Volunteers and supervisors will be asked to complete a midterm and final evaluation. Sites are encouraged to conduct exit interviews and assist the volunteers with closure.

Transition Retreat
About one month after the completion of year of service, YAVs are brought together for a weekend to process their YAV year with other YAVs. Trained professionals lead the young adults through techniques that assist them in processing their experiences, telling their stories and integrating their experiences into post-YAV life.

Interpretation is the sharing of a YAV’s story with others. YAVs can share their stories through events, newsletters, minutes for mission and visiting churches and colleges in their region. Interpretation is an integral part of the YAV experience. Through interpretation, volunteers further serve their placement communities by sharing the stories of those communities with a wider audience.