October 6, 2016
The lives of nearly 80 young adults were transformed recently as the 2016–2017 Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) class gathered at Stony Point Conference Center in New York to begin their YAV experience; each had signed up for “a year of service for a lifetime of change.”
Some wonder if these new YAVs will all become ordained pastors.
“What we hope is that all will go into faithful service after this time of vocational discernment,” said Richard Williams, coordinator of the YAV program. He said that on average, about 30 percent become teaching elders, and most of the other 70 percent go into nonprofit work, health care, education, legal work, or government service. “But what our alums say is that no matter what they are doing after their service, how they are doing it is very different after living and serving in the YAV program.”
From the 11 denominations represented in this year’s class, 22 YAVs will live and work at one of six international sites and the others will serve at one of 14 national sites. YAVs are placed in community agencies or local nonprofits, with work placements depending on the needs of the partners and the skills of the individual. Spanning ages 19–30, YAVs live in intentional Christian communities.
Last month the 2015–2016 class that recently completed a year of service met for a time of reflection, sharing, and imagining of where God is calling them. The orientation, periodic reflection times, and this post-transition retreat at the end of the service year are among the components that set the YAV program apart from other volunteer opportunities available for young adults.
All YAVs are eligible for health insurance and student loan assistance, but they are also responsible for a portion of their own fundraising, usually around $3,000 to $4,000.
During the orientation week, Williams said, YAVs cover a lot of topics, from confronting racism and sexism and privilege to looking at how to serve in an interfaith world. “This week is meant to be intentionally challenging,” said Williams. “We will push their limits. We are not looking to keep comfortable people comfortable.”
After orientation YAVs travel directly to their placement sites and begin local orientation. For domestic YAVs, that means 1–2 weeks; for international YAVs it is 2–4 weeks. Several YAV sites are opening again after a short hiatus. Three YAVs will serve in the Philippines this year, and four YAVs will serve in Zambia.
The YAV program begins accepting applications for the 2017–2018 class this month. To start an application, receive answers to frequently asked questions, or donate to the program, visit www.youngadultvolunteers.org.
Kathy Melvin, Director of Mission Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: Young Adult Volunteers
Let us join in prayer for:
2016–2017 International Young Adult Volunteers
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
Lord, thank you for experiences that open our eyes to more clearly see you, and our ears to more clearly hear you. Expose in us those things that keep us from coming to you. Open our hearts and make us unafraid to be vulnerable. May we have encounters that will change us forever and move us in the direction where you are leading. Amen.