A monthly newsletter of The West Cascade Peace Corps Association in Oregon's Southern Willamette Valley

April 2012

Upcoming Events

  • April 9: WCPCA board meeting, 7-9pm, at the home of Dorothy Soper
  • April 10: WCPCA provides a clean up crew for the Food for Lane County fundraiser, Chefs’ Night Out, 8:30-10:30pm, Hult Center. Enjoy culinary treats before working.
  • April 13: WCPCA potluck at the home of Dave and Dorothy Soper, 6-9pm. Amy Small will tell us about her experience as a PCV in Jamaica.
  • April 5th and 19th: Peace Corps Discussion Group, New Day Bakery, 6:30. Also Cozmic Pizza, April 12, to take part in the evening’s Science Pub. Check the Cozmic Pizz web site for info.
  • May 4: NOM (nominee) party to honor newly appointed PC trainees from the area organized by the U of O Peace Corps recruiter’s office and WCPCA.

In This Issue

From The Board

From Members and the Wider World

Volunteer Opportities

ReConnections is the monthly newsletter of the West Cascade Peace Corps Association (WCPCA) and can be found online at http://www.westcascadepca.org under the "News" heading. If you have a question about the WCPCA, would no longer like to receive the newsletter or are interested in becoming more involved with the WCPCA, please contact info@westcascadepca.org.

Contributions to ReConnections are always welcome, although the editor and the WCPCA board reserve the right to choose what will and will not be published. Generally, if it relates to the Peace Corps or to the WCPCA's goals (see the bylaws and constitution for more information), we would be happy to publish it. Please send contributions to newsletter@westcascadepca.org.

Editors:Keith Beyer, Deb Jones, Dorothy Soper
Newsletter Design: Felicia Kenney

April 13 Potluck

The next potluck will be on Friday, April 13th, from 6:00 – 9:00 PM. Amy Small, a Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica from 2008-10, will be the speaker discussing the challenges and successes of her assignment. Jamaica has a high crime rate, and is a tourist destination for many people from around the world. These conditions add extra challenges to a Peace Corps volunteer. Amy was able to overcome these obstacles and break through barriers to develop sustainable projects related to environmental awareness. Her work took her to schools, 4-H clubs, youth camps, local schools and farmers groups and included tree plantings and beach cleanups. She collaborated with local groups such as the Jamaican Caves Organization to gather research information on local caves to enhance the knowledge of the community and along the way was able to learn the pleasures of rappelling, cave ecology and all of the unique experiences that become typical for a Peace Corps volunteer.

Please bring a dish to share. Plates, cups, and utensils will be provided.

The potluck will be at the home of Dave and Dorothy Soper, 4430 Pinecrest Dr., in south Eugene. Please check the calendar section of the website for driving directions.

Josette Green

U of O Street Faire and Peace Corps Recruiting

On May 2, 3, and 4 the bustling U of O Street Faire will take place on campus and will include a Peace Corps recruiting booth. WCPCA members have a tradition of helping staff the booth and thus enjoying the opportunity to meet prospective PCVs, talk about the Peace Corps, and learn Peace Corps updates from the recruiters in Eugene and Seattle who will be there. Look for announcements soon to invite you to sign up for this interesting task.

Hannah Klausman

Celebrating new Peace Corps nominees on May 4th at the NOM party

Newly appointed Peace Corps nominees from the area will be the focus of the annual NOM (for nominee) party on Friday, May 4th, 6-9 pm, at the Wesley Center, 1236 Kincaid Street, Eugene, directly behind the U of O bookstore. See parking information below.

This annual celebration to honor newly appointed PC trainees as they prepare to leave for their assignments will be a potluck dinner and is cosponsored by the University of Oregon’s Peace Corps recruiter and WCPCA. You’ll meet the new nominees and their family members and friends and enjoy a program that will keep you in touch with current Peace Corps activities. Look forward to a festive evening. This is a good time and place to relax after working at the Street Faire.

Please bring a dish to share. Plates, cups, and utensils will be provided.

The Wesley Center is located directly behind the U of O bookstore. You’ll find ample parking in U of O parking lots which are open to the public after 6pm, except for individually reserved parking places. The closest large parking lot is at the corner of 14th and Kincaid Streets.

Dorothy Soper

WCPCA’s new “Forever Peace Corps” tee shirts on sale now

With the April potluck WCPCA will unveil its new “Forever Peace Corps” tee shirt designed by James Cloutier. The shirts will be available to purchase at the potluck and future WCPCA gatherings as well as through the website.

The shirts are a beautiful spring blue color, 100% cotton, with the design printed in four colors. The front features the West Cascade dove and a quotation from President John Kennedy’s inaugural address (1961), “My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” The back shows a graphic of JFK against the background of a world map, the Peace Corps name, and the following quotation (1963), “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”

The board felt that the quotations are as relevant today as they were fifty years ago. We hope that you’ll share this view and want to wear the shirt to commemorate the Peace Corps’ legacy while making a positive contribution to current civic discourse. We ask your support for WCPCA’s work by purchasing a shirt and wearing it proudly as an inspiring addition to your spring wardrobe.

Tee shirt sales will be a major fundraiser for WCPCA this year. The board will dedicate the total profit from the sales to funding humanitarian projects. The price of an individual shirt is $20 plus $3 per shirt for mailing if necessary. A wholesale price for a dozen or more shirts will be $16 per shirt plus $16 per box for mailing a box that will hold up to 15 shirts. We hope to enlist the interest of other RPCV groups as well as businesses in selling the shirts.

For more information about the shirts please send an email to, info@westcascadepca.org, and write Tee shirts in the subject line.

James Cloutier and Dorothy Soper

Volunteer help needed for the newsletter and handling tee shirt sales

WCPCA is a busy organization and the board needs help to keep its various activities in operation. Please consider volunteering 4-5 hours a month or every few months to make a contribution. Without additional help, we’ll have to cut back on services. Many WCPCA members travel out of town frequently and so the board is always willing to accommodate individual travel schedules. On the job training and support are always available. Please see the details of volunteer opportunities below.

Newsletter: Deb Jones complies the monthly newsletter copy into the final form in HTML format and Felicia Kenney sends the newsletter to our membership and others on the mailing list. Currently Keith Beyer and Dorothy Soper collect, organize, and sometimes edit the copy. We need help in this latter area so that there can be a monthly rotation for the editorial work. Basic computer skills are necessary for this task.

Handling tee shirt sales: With the availability of the new Forever Peace Corps tee shirt, we’ll need help in responding to orders and also in devising new marketing strategies. This will involve keeping a small inventory of shirts at your home and mailing them at the post office approximately once per week in response to orders. New ideas about marketing strategies will be considered carefully by the board. This job would require 2-5 hours per month.

If you can help in either of these capacities please send an email to, info@westcascadepca.org, and write either “Newsletter” or “Shirts” in the subject line.

Peace Corps Partnership Project in Vanuatu awarded a grant in March

At its March meeting the WCPCA board awarded $500 to the Peace Corps Partnership Project, Rural Water System Development, organized by PCV, N. Karr, from Oregon. The board felt that the project would make a significant contribution to the quality of life in the town that it will serve by reestablishing a water system that was installed originally by the French/British colonial government and has fallen into disrepair. There is a full description of the project on the website under “Projects.”

Funds for this award came from distributions of the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund which was created with generous gifts to WCPCA and whose sole purpose is to support humanitarian programs.

Northwest RPCV group campout at Sunset Bay State Park, August 2-5

The 22nd annual campout for northwest RPCV groups will be organized this year by WCPCA and will take place August 2-5 at Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay on the Oregon coast. It’s a beautiful area with many recreational opportunities for both adults and children.

WCPCA will host a Saturday night dinner and a northwest RPCV group regional meeting will take place earlier on Saturday.

Registration for the three nights will cost $20 for adults and $10 for children. Find full details, photos, and registration via PayPal on the WCPCA website. You’ll find my contact information here, too. Email or call me with any questions. I’m your wagon master and I live in Coos Bay. This is an area that I know well.

The camp site is about 25% full now, so register soon if you want to camp. Some may want to stay in nearby motels and they are booking fast too. If you won’t be a camper but want to join the Saturday night dinner, please let me know and plan to pay $5 at the door.

Sam Greer

Treasurer’s Report

March balances in the WCPCA accounts at OCCU are the following:

Checking account: $2,624

Savings account: $4,039

Restricted account (to be used for funding humanitarian projects only): $621

As of November, 2011, the balance in the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund at the Oregon Community Foundation was $25,903.

Dale Morse

Condolences to Diane Jeffcott

We extend our deepest condolences to Diane Jeffcott upon the death of her husband, George. Diane and George met as Peace Corps volunteers in India in the 1960s. They were among the founding members of WCPCA. They have been active in the organization since that time, frequently joining the WCPCA delegation in its annual march in the Eugene Celebration Parade, staffing innumerable WCPCA booths at community gatherings, and hosting potlucks and board meetings, all with welcoming smiles. George was the WCPCA president for two years in the mid 1990s and served on the board in 2010.

Many of us last saw George in early February when he and Diane attended the potluck. We will miss his good humor, thoughtful contributions, and friendly presence. We look forward to Diane’s continued participation in the organization.

Dorothy Soper

A Tribute for Roger Landrum, PCV Nigeria, 1961-’63

Roger Landrum was a PCV in Nigeria, 1961-63. He taught at the new University of Nigeria at Nsukka in Nigeria's first year of independence and his experience was the subject of a Peace Corps documentary film called Give Me A Riddle. Landrum was one of the first RPCVs to join the PC/W staff.\

As president of RPCV/W, the largest local organization of RPCVs in the country, Landrum led the Peace Corps alumni coalition which initiated and organized the famous 25th Peace Corps Anniversary Conference in Washington in 1986. The conference brought new momentum and funding to the NPCA which Landrum later served as board chair….

In recent years Landrum has become an award-winning international photographer. His work was recently featured by the International Photographic Society of the IMF/World Bank, and can be viewed at www.RogerLandrum.com.

Here, however, is Roger's chilling tale of what America was like back in the 1960s in the South. And it is rather amazing, given Roger's story of a weekend trip in Georgia, that today, nearly fifty years later, we have not only a Peace Corps Director who is an African-American, but also a President. Maybe there is hope for America. ]

More at: PC Writers.

Miriam Aiken, PCV Philippines, 1965-’67

Help for ill or injured RPCV’s

My name is Felicia Kenney. You may recognize my name from my work with West Cascade. I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, West Africa from 2003-2004. While I loved my time in the Peace Corps, I returned very ill and unable to work. I'm not alone. Between 10 and 30% of all volunteers who served returned with some health issues resulting from their service. I have been receiving worker's comp from the Department of Labor because of my condition since my return. However, the system isn't set up to deal with RPCVs, which means that in addition to dealing with very serious health problems, we all are often forced into an adversarial relationship with those who are supposed to be helping us. Perhaps you returned home unable to work or know a sick or injured volunteer, which is why I am writing this article.

When volunteers return from their Peace Corps service sick or injured, they often find themselves lost in a maze of paperwork, stressed from dealing with reacclimating to American life, often filled with guilt about having "failed" the Peace Corps by becoming ill, and so overwhelmed by health problems that dealing with anything beyond surviving day to day is nearly impossible. A new group has been formed to lobby Congress for help and to bring the attention of the media to our cause. The group is Abandoned By Peace Corps, and we are looking for injured RPCVs who are willing to share their stories and for other RPCVS to stand with us.

We have a list of proposed reforms to the way the Department of Labor and the Peace Corps handle injured volunteers. First, though, it needs to be said that no one likes to criticize the Peace Corps. While we might be sick or injured so seriously that we can barely function day to day, almost all volunteers will still stand up and say that the Peace Corps is a wonderful organization. And it is. However, it is also an organization that was not designed to handle the needs of acute or chronically ill RPCVs. To pretend that nothing is wrong and to shield the Peace Corps from constructive criticism does not help the Peace Corps, it does not help RPCVs who are currently struggling with health problems caused by their service, and it sets up future volunteers who become ill or injured during their service to receive the same substandard care. The third goal of the Peace Corps is to bring the world and the lessons we learned during our service back home. In the Peace Corps, we weren't afraid to confront difficult issues. There is nothing unpatriotic about reform and constructive criticism, and this situation needs to change.

Not sure that the system is really that bad? Please read these stories from RPCVs.

Want to know more about the proposed reforms? You can find the list here: Proposed reforms.

If you have thoughts, suggestions or would like to give us your support, please contact AbandonedByPeaceCorps@gmail.com. Also, you can join our Facebook group here.

You can also help us by forwarding information about the group to any injured RPCVs you know who need help or would be willing to support us. By emailing AbandonedByPeaceCorps@gmail.com or joining the Facebook group, you will allow us to contact you when the time comes to start lobbying Congress. We desperately need your help. Thank you for your time.

Congratulations to Gary Cornelius

Our congratulations and best wishes go to WCPCA member, Gary Cornelius, who has just been sworn in as a PCV in South Africa. You can follow Gary’s work in an HIV/AIDS awareness program in the village of Mdwebu in the province of KwaZulu-Natal on his blog.

This is an excellent opportunity for us to follow a Peace Corps program in “real time” and with modern technology. Gary is facing a difficult social and medical situation that is also a product of modern life and he’s working with an NGO, a new development in Peace Corps programming. He recently sent this update:

“I will be working with an NGO called Masiphile (masa-pee-lay) Community Care Center that provides a variety of supports and services to people, including, we hope, kids in ‘child-headed households’ where there are no parents left and a kid perhaps 14 is caring, say, for siblings aged 2, 6 and 11.

“We also do ‘home-based care’ for people who are very sick -- there are 35 volunteers who do that -- and operate a ‘creche’ or pre-school program for kids under 5. We also do HIV/AIDS awareness and have a parent support program.

“My organization would also like to start an ‘OVC’ program -- orphans and vulnerable children -- but would need a kitchen capable of preparing up to about 50 meals at a time to do that....So, one the first things I hope to do is help them raise the money to do that.

“And then there's the matter of doing a ‘community needs assessment’ during my first 90 days to see what other needs there might be in the community. (PC calls this the ‘community integration period,’ and volunteers call it ‘lockdown’ since you're not supposed to travel outside your village during this time!”

Dorothy Soper

Calling all Peace Corps writers!

Click here for information on this request for short stories.

Volunteers needed to help Food for Lane County with Chefs’ Night Out

WCPCA carries on its tradition of volunteering at Food for Lane County’s major fundraiser, Chefs’ Night Out, which will be on Tuesday, April 10th, at the Hult Center. Volunteers may arrive about 8pm to enjoy the special treats of up to 60 local restaurants and then be prepared to work from about 9-10:30 pm to help with the clean up.

We realize that 8 pm may be late for some people to eat, but you could do as I am planning. Eat dinner at home your regular time, come at 8pm to meet several of the local top chefs, & maybe go home with a few new special recipes. I have heard from two members that this has been a fun event the last couple of years that they have attended.

If you are willing to participate, please email your interest to info@westcascadepca.org with “Chef’s Night Out” in the subject line. I’ll be in touch as I’m coordinating our participation. Thank you in advance for your support.

Vince Ceccacci