‘Yo hablo el amor’

Speaking love through YAV service in Tucson

by Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Service

Dakota and Tanner Kohfield, graduates of Trinity University in San Antonio, are serving as Young Adult Volunteers in Tucson this year. (Photo by Anh-Viet Dinh)

LOUISVILLE  —  Immigrants seeking a home in a new land and Arizona residents needing home repairs are both learning the language of love through the work of a couple serving as Young Adult Volunteers at the Tucson Borderlands YAV site on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Dakota and Tanner Kohfield are discerning next steps in their careers. Dakota, who speaks fluent Spanish, is working as a legal assistant with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, which provides free legal and social services for detained immigrants, many of whom are unaccompanied minors. “Because we have only three attorneys for 380 children, many must defend themselves in removal [deportation] proceedings before immigration judges and against government prosecutors,” she said.

Young Adult Volunteer Dakota Kohfield chats with a child through the border wall in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by Alison Wood)

Tanner works with Community Home Repair Projects of Arizona (CHRPA). He divides his time between grant writing and emergency home repairs for low-income, elderly or disabled residents. “Before this year, the only tools I’d ever used were a screwdriver, a hammer and, occasionally a drill,” he said. “Now I assist with roofing, plumbing, flooring, electrical and cooling system repairs. I’ve learned to build a wheelchair ramp, replace a toilet, hang a door and fix flat tires on my bike, caused by a plethora of thorny plants and frequent potholes.”

The Kohfields say that being a YAV means being part of many communities — a community of housemates, co-workers, church congregants and Tucson residents. They’ve learned even more about one another by living with other YAVs in intentional Christian community.

Young Adult Volunteer Tanner Kohfield’s time is devoted to grant writing and working on emergency home repairs. (Photo by Dustin Schaber)

The Young Adult Volunteer Program is one of the ministries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) supported by the Pentecost Offering. The offering is traditionally received on Pentecost Sunday, which this year falls on June 9.


Apply to be a YAV
There’s still time to apply for a year of service as a Young Adult Volunteer in the 2019–20 year (August to August). Spots are available at several national sites. To learn more, follow @yavprogram on Twitter and apply by June 1.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?