Why give to YAV?

Elizabeth Welliver
Published in
4 min readJun 15, 2017


Several friends have asked me recently: In the world of things I could choose to do next year, why YAV? Wouldn’t I want to do something easier, closer to home, or better paid?

Most decisions about career and life paths are complex, this one included, and yet the evidence was clear. Here are 3 reasons why I chose this program (and why I am giving a significant portion of my savings to support it):

  1. YAV educates emerging leaders: As a young adult at the beginning of my career, I chose YAV to learn about the world and my role within it. The week-long orientation program is only the beginning of our engagement with learning about the root causes of structural racism and poverty, and how to address global inequalities. In our retreats and weekly meetings, my housemates and I will challenge and support one another as we develop our understanding on complex issues and examine our core beliefs about the world. We will also be trained with leadership skills to put our faith in action with the mentorship of our site coordinator, work supervisors, and colleagues. We will also learn to develop healthy habits for budgeting, community living, and intentional self-care. YAV is a year of immersive education that turns our world upside down, and reshapes the people we are becoming.
  2. YAV supports high-impact service: Across 15 national and 5 international sites this year, a cohort of young adults will be placed in non-profit settings where the community’s need and the YAV’s skill and passion meet. In Austin, I will be working with non-profits that serve local immigrant and refugee communities alongside faith communities. The YAV program forms long-term partnerships with our service sites to work with the marginalized of our communities. I chose YAV because I know fifteen alumni from the program who continue to make an impact in education, ministry, healthcare and social work. This year will push me and fellow YAVs outside our comfort zone to address injustice as we examine our own lives and actions.
  3. YAV offers a new way of life: For many privileged folks like me, the prospect of living simply on a stipend to support our basic living cost while sharing a house with eight people can be daunting. Yet as part of the YAV year, community forms a support system that takes hard work and is greatly rewarding. The YAV program operates by a different way of life based in cooperation, modesty, and humility. YAVs are asked to give generously of our time, energy, and resources. In this way, YAV trains young adults like me to prioritize relationships and community for the good of the whole — to live an abundant life with less. YAV is a training ground for discipleship and spiritual growth.

This brings me to one last and important reason: YAV is a year of exploring, challenging, and deepening faith. I joined the Presbyterian Church (USA) because I believe in the church’s calling to embody God’s justice and peace. The YAV program of the Presbyterian Church intentionally supports young adult as we live out the gospel in word and deed. I am thankful to explore a call to ministry this year in a community grounded in God’s love and faithfulness.

So — why YAV? The program found me my junior year in college, and since then, I’ve been directed back again and again to serve. Now, here I am, ready and eager to invest my resources to make it happen. I would be honored if you would join me.

Would you consider making a contribution to my YAV year? All donations are tax-deductible, and go to provide housing, food, and transportation along with mentorship, education, and orientation resources for volunteers. Each volunteer is asked to raise $4,000 with the support of family and friends. You can make a gift online or by mailing a check to Austin Seminary. Thanks to your generosity, the YAV program will be sustainable for years to come.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this worthy cause. If you have any questions, or more reasons to share, please comment below. One more reason I chose YAV: to connect with friends and family, old and new. I look forward to hearing from you.

YAV alumna Suyeon Kim and I met at a rally for undocumented immigrants’ rights. Suyeon served in Miami in the class of 2014, and now works as an educator in Charlotte.
Preaching at Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona in August 2016, I was fortunate to work under Rev. Alison Harrington and develop a sense of call to ministry. I also lived in a YAV community!