Racial Justice Resources

Young Adult Volunteer program creates new normal for 2020-22 YAV program years

But the motto stays the same: ‘A year of service for a lifetime of change’

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

The motto of the Young Adult Volunteers program says it all: “A year of service for a lifetime of change.” (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — Despite the challenges created by COVID-19, the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program is committed to responding to the call to serve in creative ways.

The Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program is an ecumenical faith-based year of service for young people (ages 19-30) in sites across the United States and around the world. YAVs accompany local agencies working to address root causes of poverty and to effect reconciliation. Alongside this work, volunteers explore the meaning of their Christian faith and accountability to their neighbors in community with peers and mentors.

Normally, YAVs begin their placements in August and return home a year later. However, in the early spring, all volunteers returned home from the six international YAV sites. National YAVs continue to shelter in place and work from the community in which they are serving.

In light of these new realities, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), instituted a travel ban for all national staff and volunteers through December 31, which will postpone the start of the 2020-2021 class.

Normally, YAVs start their year with an in-person orientation program. This year, the orientation will be virtual. Based on the current plan, YAVs will travel to their placement sites in January 2021, completing their service no later than August 2021.

YAVs who accept the 2020-2021 modified year will also have the opportunity to apply for a second YAV year and become part of the 2021-2022 class as well. The new application deadlines are:

  • National applications — September 30, 2020
  • International application — September 1, 2020
  • 2021-2022 applications open — October 1, 2020
  • Virtual orientation — December 1-18, 2020 (dates subject to change)

“The YAV program focuses on growing, learning flexibility and adapting to change,” said the Rev. Everdith Landrau, coordinator of the program. “Our staff and site coordinators are working to create new ways of engaging YAVs during the fall. We are looking at virtual Bible studies, webinars and regular Zoom meetings within each site. It’s going to be a challenge, but we are excited about the opportunities this extra time has presented us.”

Benefits during the year of service include a regular stipend, housing, all program-related transportation costs and student loan assistance.

The Rev. Everdith Landrau

“We’re also inviting participants to deeply engage in world issues, commit to self-reflection, listen to those who are being marginalized and learn in a new way,” said Landrau. “Our mantra is, ‘a year of service for a lifetime of change.’”

As a Matthew 25 program, YAVs and site coordinators will  participate (along with participants in GA 224) in Saturday’s virtual Poor People’s Campaign, found here.

The mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington is a 2.5-hour program broadcast at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, June 20, and again at 6 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, June 21. Learn more about the event, which is being joined by commissioners to the 224th General Assembly, at this link.

To learn more about becoming a Young Adult Volunteer, click here, where you’ll find application forms, frequently-asked questions and other helpful resources.


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