West Cascade Peace Corps Association
About Us

Email Newsletter for October 2009

Greetings from the West Cascade Peace Corps Association!

In this edition of our electronic newsletter, you'll find:

Upcoming Events In The Next Month

November 11: Board Meeting at the home of Dorothy Soper from 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

November 13: Annual Meeting at the home of Tom and Nancy English from 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Announcements and Notes

  • Volunteers Needed For Saturday Market's "Holiday Market!"

    We are selling the beautiful 2010 RPCV International Calendars and WCPCA t-shirts as well as promoting the US Peace Corps this year at a booth at the "Holiday Market." The fundraising proceeds go to support WCPCA activities and international projects. We need volunteers to sign up for two hour shifts to manage our booth on Saturday, December 12th and Sunday, December 13th. Our booth will be open from 10 AM to 6 PM on both days. Please combine your holiday shopping and volunteer spirit by contacting Michael Kresko in order reserve your two hour time slot or learn more. Contact info: holidaymarket@westcascadepca.org

  • West Cascade Makes Clean Up a Breeze

    Thanks to the dedicated Westcascade members who helped clean up after Food for Lane County's Empty Bowls fundraiser on October 17th. Volunteer Coordinator, Sheyla Norte, called to let me know that she has the best volunteers of any non-profit in town. Thanks goes out to Jack and Mary Meacham, Thomas Mason, James Hofer and James Cloutier. WCPCA has been a proud part of Food for Lane County's two biggest fund raisers of the year and the next opportunity to volunteer is Chef's Night Out in the spring. We will be looking for volunteers so be on the lookout for more information in the e-newsletters or on westcascadepca.org.

    Shannon Micheel
    Dominican Republic '95-97

  • Conversations About Students, Teaching, and Learning

    Many Peace Corps Volunteers are engaged in teaching, either explicitly in school settings or informally in many other contexts. And many volunteers continue their commitment to the development of students by becoming elementary, secondary, and college teachers after they return to the United States. Certainly there must be, among our group, a wealth of experience and wisdom about students and best practices for teaching and learning. Would you like to get together over coffee or beer for some informal sharing and conversations about students, teaching, and learning? If so, contact me, Jack Meacham, at meacham@buffalo.edu.

    To perhaps get our conversations started, here are links to three recent essays that I've written. I would welcome your comments and, of course, would look forward to hearing about your own teaching experiences and ideas.

    What's the best technology for helping students to learn?

    Some suggestions for teaching to counter misinformation and negative stereotypes, illustrated with the example of teaching about Islam.

    How can we best teach students about diversity and democracy?

  • Election of the WCPCA board for 2010 Jim Beyer performed the duties of the nominating committee to identify candidates for the 2010 WCPCA Board of Directors which consists of six officers and an open number of at-large members. Most members of the 2009 board are continuing and three new members will join the board in at-large positions. A vote of the membership on this slate will take place at the annual meeting, November 13th. The board thanks Rob Dwan for service on the board in 2009. Rob is unable to continue because he will be out of Eugene for a substantial part 2010.

    The board meets monthly on a Wednesday evening from 7-9 pm at a member's home. All board meetings are open to the full membership who are most welcome to join in conducting the organization's business. Board meeting information is posted on the website.

    The 2010 nominees are:
    President: James Cloutier (Kenya, 1964-66)
    Vice President: Dorothy Soper (Ghana, 1963-65)
    Treasurer: Jack Meacham (Turkey, 1967-69)
    Secretary: Geoff Walser (India, 1967-69)
    Communications Coordinator: Felicia Kenny (Benin, 2003-04)
    Ex officio, U of O Recruiter: Justin Overdevest (Dominican Republic, 2002-2004 and Peru, 2004-2005)

    Board Members-at-Large:
    John Hofer (Morocco, 1968-70)
    George Jeffcott (India, 1966-69)
    Maggie Keenan (Philippines, 1987-90)
    Michael Kresko (Seychelles, 1994-95 and Russia, 1995-97)
    Shannon Micheel (Dominican Republic, 1995-97)
    Evangelina Sundgrenz (Uzbekistan, 2000-2001)
    Rolly Thompson (Peru, 1964-66)
    Wayne Thompson (Peru, 1964-66)
    Bob Watada (Peru, 1964-66)

    The candidates introduce themselves to the membership through the following brief biographies.

    • James Cloutier is an artist by profession, native Oregonian by birth, graduate of the University of Oregon by choice, and long time member of West Cascade PCA (Kenya 64-66) by desire. He's been president of WCPCA for the last year and a half.

      James and Beryl Brinkman coauthored "The Funniest Job You'll Ever Love, An Anthology of Peace Corps Humor, 1961-1991", which was published by WCPCA in 1991.

    • John Hofer (Morocco, 1969-1970) served on an agricultural development project in Northern Morocco. Now retired, he worked for many years in marketing and new product development for high tech companies and has three patents to his credit.

      Currently he is serving on the boards of Helios Resource Network and the Community Fund for Social Change. He is also volunteering for the Mackenzie River Gathering. He actively follows foreign affairs, particularly in the Middle East and Latin America and enjoys learning foreign languages, most recently teaching himself to read Arabic.

      John is married with two children and three grandchildren. John's wife Laura is a retired clinical social worker and former VISTA volunteer.

    • George Jeffcott, a fourth generation Oregonian, joined the Peace Corps in 1965, served in India as a volunteer and then on the Bombay staff. He returned in 1969, earned a M.A. in gifted education, married Diane (RPCV India) and then taught high school Advanced Placement literature and philosophy. Then, for reasons that still escape him, he took a job as the Content Manager of Language Arts at the University of Oregon. He retired in 2004 and is now a volunteer with OSU's Master Gardener Program, the Eugene's graffiti abatement program, and a couple of boards.

      His first son, a Captain with the Sun River Fire Department, has two beautiful and intelligent daughters. His second son, a teacher and a RPCV (Micronesia), married a Balinese beauty and expects a boy, who will also be handsome and intelligent, this November. Finally, due to the continuous encouragement of his two pure bred Ballretrievers, Maggie and Pearl, George has perfected the art of ball tossing. George is a longtime member of WCPCA, served three years as its president in the 1990s, and has been on several committees.

    • Maggie Keenan is the Communications Director at the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (www.elaw.org). She was an agroforestry volunteer in the Philippines where she signed on for a third year to produce a quarterly Peace Corps magazine (1987-90).

      After graduate school, she spent three years in Uganda doing contract work for the Uganda Wildlife Society, UNAIDS, UNHCR, and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She has two girls at South Eugene High School.

    • Felicia Kenney has been Communications Coordinator (including being the webmaster) for the WCPCA for several years. She joined shortly after her return from Peace Corps service in Benin, West Africa in 2004. She currently lives in Eugene with her husband, three chickens, and a hedgehog.

    • Michael Kresko is a middle school physical science teacher in Eugene School District 4J. This is his eleventh year as a science teacher which include years of teaching in both Baltimore, Maryland, and Miami, Florida. In Miami, Michael completed his Master's in Science Education as part of the Peace Corps Fellowship Program at Florida International University and was active with the RPCV chapter there.

      He did mostly forestry work as PCV in Seychelles ('94-'95) and environment education projects as a PCV in the Russian Far East ('95-'97). He has been a WCPCA member about four years and a board member or at-large board member for many of those.

    • Jack Meacham was a PCV in Turkey where he taught English in a rural high school, 1967-69. He is a former university professor (developmental psychology, world history). He retired and moved to Eugene in December, 2006, with his wife, Mary who was also a PCV in Turkey. They love to travel (recently, China, Portugal, Spain, England, India). Jack has been West Cascade's treasurer since January, 2009.

    • Shannon Micheel, spouse of fellow board member, Michael Kresko, and busy mother of 2 year old, Aidan, works at the Community Health Center of Lane County as a Family Nurse Practitioner. She was a PCV in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic ('95-'97) working as a community health volunteer. She completed her master's degree as a Peace Corps Fellow at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore before heading to Eugene five years ago to fulfill her National Health Service Corps scholarship obligation. She has been an officer and at-large board member of West Cascade since 2005.

    • Justin Overdevest is the campus Peace Corps representative at the University of Oregon and an ex officio member of he board. He served as an agro-forestry Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 2002-2004 and as a health volunteer in Peru from 2004-2006. He worked on projects ranging from reforestation, beekeeping, water and sanitation, solar panels, animal husbandry, and vegetable gardens/nutrition.

      Justin is a graduate student at the U of O. As the campus Peace Corps representative, he offers a monthly information session and office hours to talk to interested students and applicants. The UO Peace Corps office is in the Career Center (2nd floor of Hendricks Hall) and open office hours this fall term are Tuesdays 10am-1pm, Wednesdays 1-3pm, and Thursdays 10am-1pm. Contact Justin at pcorps@uoregon.edu or 346.6026 to make an appointment or to receive further information.

    • Dorothy Soper is a longtime WCPCA member and has served several terms as secretary and one as treasurer. She taught French and first and second grades in the Eugene public schools and retired in 2005. She was a PCV in Ghana, 1963-65, where she taught high school French. She stays in touch with Ghanaian friends and former students and follows Ghanaian affairs closely.

    • Evangelina Sundgrenz served as a PCV in the ancient city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan from 2000-2001. There she taught English at Samarkand Lyceum #5 and at Samarkand State University. Sundgrenz enjoys living and working in Eugene and is a past treasurer of WCPCA.

    • Rolly Thompson , PCV Peru 1964-66 in rural community action, has returned to Peru several times, most recently in September. Was a counselor and teacher for 25 years in Eugene. She's raised sheep and alpacas for 28 years and is a spinner, knitter, and weaver. She is on the board of directors of Pro-Bone-O, a Eugene nonprofit that provides free veterinary care for animals of people who are homeless. She's a longtime member of WCPCA and has been the vice president for 1 1/2 years.

    • Wayne Thompson was a PCV in Peru, 1964-66, and has revisited his Andean village twice, most recently in October. He taught social studies to junior and senior high students for 31 years at Roosevelt JH and South Eugene HS in Eugene, District 4J. He co-chaired with Beryl Brinkman the 1990 Returned Peace Corps National Convention held in Eugene and has been an active member of WCPCA for a long while.

      Wayne and Rolly own Fox Hollow Farm and Fiber. The WCPCA Eugene Celebration taxi stays in one of their sheep barns waiting for that one day a year when it leads our group in the Eugene Celebration Parade.

    • Geoffrey Walser was born and raised in Southern California. After graduating from Claremont McKenna College with an economics degree, he joined the Peace Corps to serve in an agricultural extension program in Mysore State, India (India 42, 1967-69).

      He served in West Germany with the U.S. Army before getting his graduate degree in International Management at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. After short stints in the private sector, he joined the U.S. Department of Commerce. He retired in 2000 after a 25-year career as an international trade specialist and foreign service officer with the Department. Up until the present time, he has been a business consultant. Geoff and his wife, Pennie, moved to Eugene from Delaware in 2008. They have two grown children.

    • Bob Watada was a PCV in Lambayeque, Peru, 1964-66, He's an economist who worked in government in Hawaii for 31 years, the last ten monitoring politicians. He's the retired Executive Director of Hawaii's Campaign Spending Commission. He lives in Pleasant Hill where he is a gentleman farmer.

  • In October, WCPCA awarded a total of $1,000 to two humanitarian projects. Thus for 2009 WCPCA has awarded a total of $2,000 to four humanitarian projects.

    October's recipients are Students Helping Street Kids International (SHSKI) centered in Recife, Brazil and the Bore Hole Project in Kumasi, Ghana. Both projects are currently fundraising and richly deserve additional support. The board asks members to consider making private contributions to these programs both of which are recognized by the IRS as nonprofits. All contributions are tax deductible.

    SHSKI was founded in 1997 by WCPCA member, Bob Crites. It funds the private school education and pays for some additional expenses of children living in poverty in Recife, Brazil. As a rule these children are identified in elementary school and are supported through high school. Much of the organization's funding has come from the support of American school children, especially in the Eugene/Springfield area, where Bob worked for many years as a school counselor. Bob was a PCV in Brazil, 1964-66, and now lives with his wife in Recife for six months of the year.

    SHSKI is a nonprofit organization and donations are tax deductible. The average annual cost of one student's education is $3,600. Further information is available on the organization's website at http://www.helpthekids.org/SHSKI/Welcome.html.

    The Bore Hole Project is a Peace Corps Partnership project organized by a PCV from Oregon, Michael Simpson. The project can be identified as #641-277. It's primary purpose is to dig a bore hole to provide potable water to a hostel where approximately 400 young women and their children live. These women have moved to Kumasi, a city of 1.5 million, to look for work and live apart from their families. They are typically employed as head porters, carrying goods within the city. The hostel is dirty, poorly ventilated, and crowded with little potable water available for this vulnerable group. The project seeks funds both to have a bore hold dug and to clean and upgrade the hostel. The community is contributing 30% of the total cost. The PCV involved has requested $7,000 in funding through the PC Partnership program.

    Further information about the project.

    All donations to Peace Corps Partnership projects are made on the website and are tax deductible. This is now the only means by which contributions can be made to Peace Corps programs.

    An acknowledgement letter from the Peace Corps to WCPCA notes that in 2008 over 550,000 people 62 countries benefited because 595 Peace Corps projects were at least partially funded through the Partnership Program.

    WCPCA awarded $250 to SHSKI and $750 to the Bore Hole Project. A full listing of all projects funded since the organization's founding is on the WCPCA website.

  • October's activities:
    October is a busy month due primarily to the return of students to the U of O campus. WCPCA works with the U of O Peace Corps Office to welcome newly returned volunteers, support others who continue as students, and talk to aspiring volunteers.

    • Justin reported that many students and non-students stopped by the Peace Corps desk at the Street Faire on campus. Thanks to James Cloutier and Jack Meacham who worked at the desk.

    • The October potluck held at the Many Nations Longhouse on the U of O campus drew a group of almost 60 to share a meal, talk about the past and future of the Peace Corps, and enjoy an interesting presentation by Jaxon Love, WCPCA member and recently returned PCV from Jordan. Jaxon described his teaching in a boys' school (junior and senior high school age) and his integration into the local culture which included an Iraqi refugee family. WCPCA members were pleased to meet several U of O students who were aspiring volunteers or recently returned volunteers. Three of latter joined the organization that evening. Thanks to the greeters, Diane and George Jeffcott, and others who helped with the clean up.

    • Several WCPCA members volunteered as the clean up crew for the Empty Bowls fundraiser sponsored by Food for Lane County. They enjoyed a delicious dinner and worked hard afterwards to return the setting to its usual state. Many thanks go to James Cloutier, John Hofer, Thomas Mason, Jack and Mary Meacham, and Shannon Micheel for their efforts.

  • More thank yous: Belated thanks go to John Hofer for his work at the WCPCA booth at the Eugene Celebration. His name was accidently omitted from the September newsletter.

    Many thanks to Jim Beyer who did the work on the nomination committee for the second year in a row.

  • November's potluck: The November potluck, which is also the occasion of our annual meeting, will be on Friday, November 13th, 6:00 pm, at the home of Tom and Nancy English, 2530 Columbia Street, Eugene. Directions are below.

    There will be a very short business meeting at which the board will give a brief report of the organization's work in 2009 and hold the election of the 2010 board members.

    Our program will be a slide show and musical performance by Jennifer Kyker, founder of TARIRO, a grassroots non-profit organization working in Zimbabwe to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS by educating young women and girls who have been orphaned by the disease. Jennifer will describe TARIRO's work and play some songs on the mbira dzavadzimu, the traditional instrument of the Zezuru speaking community in Zimbabwe. More information about TARIRO is available on its website, tariro.org.

    Jennifer is a Eugene native and graduate of the International High School at SEHS, class of '97. She first visited Zimbabwe as a high school student and has studied the country's music extensively since. She's visited Zimbabwe many times and is currently writing her PhD thesis on its music. She speaks Shona, a primary Zimbabwean language. TARIRO is the Shona word for hope.

    Please join us and help extend an enthusiastic welcome to Jennifer.

    Directions to the home of Tom and Nancy English, 2530 Fairmount, Eugene: The English home is near the U of O. Drive to the intersection of Columbia and Fairmount Blvd. and park in this area on either street. Then walk uphill (on a sidewalk) on Fairmount on the right hand side of the street, around the curve which is to the left, and continue past the first house on the right which is a cinder block house. Immediately after this house, turn right and walk down the driveway to 2530. Use a flashlight so that you won't mind the dark. There is no parking on the street in front of the English house.

  • The Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund: In October WCPCA created the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund, an endowed fund of $25,000 that will be managed by the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF). WCPCA will not spend the principal. Annual distributions made to WCPCA will be deposited in the organization's "restricted" account at OCCU to be used to fund humanitarian programs.

    The official announcement of the fund's creation was made at the October potluck with the board's recognition of the generous contributions of Tricia Tate, Natalie Brinkman, and Tami Beach that permitted the fund's creation. These donations totaled $22,000; WCPCA contributed $3,000 to bring the total available to the initial figure required by OCF.

    The fund is named for the late Beryl Brinkman who was a founding member of WCPCA and remained one of the organization's guiding spirits and hardest workers until her untimely death in 2007.

    Much of the funding came from Beryl's estate. At the time of the announcement and in recognition of her contribution Tricia was presented with a painting created by James Cloutier.

  • Peace Corps: 18% increase in applications

  • Peace Corps returns to Liberia

  • Work at Eye Level, by Tim Shriver
    My dad, Sargent Shriver, helped create the Peace Corps, Job Corps, Head Start and other programs. It was a time of enormous creativity and innovation... Read more

  • Turkmenistan denies entry to Peace Corps

  • Embedded: Joe and Azat
    The comic book is "loosely based" on Lonergan's own Peace Corps experience in Turkmenistan after the fall of the Soviet Union... Read More

Summary of the WCPCA board minutes for the 9/17/09 meeting

The full text of the minutes is available on the website.

Attending: Bob Watada, Rosa Sakanishi, Wayne Thompson, Rolly Thompson, Jack Meacham, Michael Kresko, Dorothy Soper Minutes of the previous board meeting had been circulated by email and approved prior to the meeting. Rolly presided at the meeting which was held at Dorothy's home. James and Justin were ill and unable to attend.

  1. Treasurer's report: Jack had circulated the treasurer's report via email prior to the meeting. Below is a summary of account balances and points of discussion.

    Current OCCU account balances:

    • General funds, saving and checking: $5,253
    • Restricted funds (separate account): $2,152 Funds in this account are available only to fund humanitarian programs.
    • Total at OCCU: $7,406

    In the last month WCPCA created the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund at the Oregon Community Foundation with a deposit of $25,000. This is an endowed fund; we cannot spend the principal. Distributions that WCPCA receives of the fund's earnings will be placed in the "restricted" account at OCCU to be used only to fund humanitarian projects or to augment the fund's principal.

    With the board's endorsement via email Jack closed the WCPCA accounts at Edward Jones. These accounts were created to hold the donated funds that were intended to create the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund. Most were deposited in that fund; the remainder were transferred to the "restricted" account at OCCU.

    The board accepted the treasurer's report.

  2. Networking: We discussed WCPCA as a networking organization. In this connection Michael suggested that we might offer to list the professions or businesses of our members in the membership directory. We agreed that one or two lines following the current information might work. Dorothy will check with Felicia about the feasibility of doing this given our current software.

  3. We debriefed the October activities. That information is in the newsletter.

  4. Volunteer activities: Dorothy told the board that John Hofer, who will join the board in 2010, will accept the responsibility to identify volunteer opportunities for the WCPCA membership next year. John has been working with Shannon to learn what she has been doing in this effort.

  5. Grants to humanitarian projects: Shannon has the board responsibility to identify and send information to the board about PC Partnership projects that involve an Oregon PCV and that are available for funding. She identified and circulated information about three such projects. Rolly identifed a fourth project that was listed on the PC website immediately prior to our meeting. All of these projects have 501 status with the IRS. (PCP projects automatically have this status through the Peace Corps and donations are made directly to the PC.)

    The board reviewed these seven projects using the scoring rubric that Shannon has developed. We concluded our discussion by awarding $250 to Students Helping Street Kids International (SHISKI), and $750 to a Peace Corps Partnership project in Ghana called "Bore Hole" that involves a PCV from Oregon. Jack will make the donations.

  6. Calendars: Rolly gave us an update on the sale of international calendars. She will email the full email list to let people know about them and also ask people to sell them to friends. Calendars can be purchased through the website and will be on sale at our booth at the Holiday Market. We anticipate selling 200 calendars for this major fund raiser.

  7. Holiday Market: Michael is coordinating the WCPCA booth at the Holiday Market. He'll write an article about this for the October newsletter and will ask for volunteers to staff the booth.

  8. Dorothy reported that the organization now has 121 members with five new members joining in September and October.

  9. Future meetings:

    • Next board meeting: Wednesday, November 11th, 7:00 pm, home of Dorothy Soper.
    • November potluck: Friday, November 13th, 6:00 pm, home of Tom and Nancy English. Program to be presented by Jennfier Kyker.
    • December board meeting: Wednesday, December 9th, 7:00 pm, home of Michael Kersko and Shannon Micheel.
    • January potuck: Friday, January 22nd, 6:00 pm, home of Nancy and Walt Meyer. Nancy and Walt will present a slide show to describe their project in Mexico, 2006-2008.