If the vocabulary of my year has you confused, you are certainly not alone. I get confused myself sometimes. This is my attempt at explaining how it all works and what it means. If you still don't get it, or if I forgot something, leave me a question in the comments and I'll be happy to answer it! :)
YAV - Young Adult Volunteers. (link to their website) This is the "program" that I am a part of. Through the PC(USA) (see definition of PC(USA) below), the YAV program consists of something like 13 National and 5 International sites and 83 Young Adult Volunteers. Basically, we are full time volunteers, living in intentional Christian community together, working with various organizations and non-profits, and attempting to do God's work for a year.
PC(USA) - Presbyterian Church (USA). This is the denomination of the Protestant Church that YAV is with. While I'm probably not in total agreement with the theology (I mean, no denomination is perfect), it's the denomination that my dad has been a pastor with since I was 7 (he was a part of the RCA - Reformed Church of America - before that) and that I grew up in.
DOOR - It stands for Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection. (website) At several of their sites, including Chicago, YAV partners with DOOR, another program. DOOR has three district programs (See Discover, Discern, and Dwell below). DOOR is associated with the Mennonite and Brethren churches and provides opportunities for service, learning, and leadership development within the urban context.
Discover - The week/weekend version of DOOR. Groups come and stay in the city and immerse themselves in urban life, serve in community based ministries, and reflect on how God is at work in the city. If you're interested, you could totally come and do a week or weekend of Discover during my year here - it would be an awesome way for you to serve and you'd get to see me and stay in the bottom half of my house and get a glimpse into my life here. Seriously, let me know if you're interested in more information!
Discern - The semester or summer -long version of DOOR for college students. Participate in the support staff for DOOR by helping to facilitate Discover groups or take part in an internship.
Dwell - The year-long version of DOOR - AKA this is what I'm doing. :)
Site Coordinator - For me, this is Krista. She is basically in charge of DOOR/YAV in Chicago. She facilitates our Friday Community Day activities and discussions, we meet with her on a regular basis for one-on-ones, invites us to her house for wonderful meals, lets us play with her adorable one year old, lets us borrow her board games, and makes sure we are still alive on a regular basis. Each DOOR/YAV site has a coordinator who lives in the city and manages the program.
Roommates or Housemates - Billy and Clarissa and I live together in the top half of a house. We live in intentional community, attempting to love each other well. They are both a part of the YAV/DOOR program as well. We each work for different organizations during the week. Check out a video tour of our house HERE.
Faith House - This is the official name of our house.
Community Day - Each Friday, we have Community Day. We volunteer with the Coalition, and sometimes other organizations too, we discuss books, we process things we are experiencing together, and we do fun things.
Coalition - The Coalition for the Homeless. As a part of our Community Day activities on Fridays, we are working with the Coalition Education Committee by doing weekly outreach. We are working with JD, a Community Organizer with the Coalition, to increase awareness of the rights of homeless students at Chicago Public Schools. We are currently centering our work around Melody Elementary School, a K-8 school not too far from our house.
Garfield Park - Our 'hood. The city of Chicago is divided into over 200 neighborhoods, and this is the one I live in. Garfield Park is directly West of downtown. Garfield Park has a reputation for being a "bad neighborhood" with lots of poverty, drugs, and gang activity. Basically, we live in the Ghetto. But we are very careful and I have yet to actually be in an danger. This is real life for many people and living here is eye opening for sure.
The Loop - This is what the natives call downtown Chicago.
CTA - Chicago Transit Authority. Public Transportation. Includes buses and The El. Since we don't have a car, we rely entirely on the CTA for our transportation this year.
The El - The Elevated train - public transportation.
The Blue Line - The branch of The El that is closest to our house and we ride often.
LBFE - Little Brothers: Friends of the Elderly. (their website) This is the organization that I work for Monday - Thursday. Their goal is to relieve isolation and loneliness in the elderly, which they do by matching elders with regular visiting volunteers and providing opportunities for socialization through various programming. Founded and Paris, France in 1946 and started in Chicago in 1959, LBFE is now in 7 US cities and 8 different countries. Their motto, Flowers Before Bread, expresses the spirit that man does not live by bread alone, but it is the human touch that makes life worth living. The Chicago Chapter serves close to 1400 Seniors in the city. They continually impress me with their thoughtfulness and kindness and I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful organization this year.
PA - Stands for Program Assistant. At LBFE, this is the title of my position. There are 9 other PAs as well - some of them live in apartments above the LBFE office building and some are a part of programs like DOOR or YAV. We each assist a PC (Program Coordinator) to manage the LBFE Elders in one geographical area of the city, visit 20-30 Elders regularly (twice a month), plan Little Brothers activities, and other various tasks.