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

January 2013

Coming Events

  • January 14: WCPCA board meeting, 7pm, at Dorothy Soper's home. All members are welcome.
  • January 17: Discussion group, 6:30-8:00 pm, New Day Bakery, 449 Blair, Eugene.
  • January 28: Food packaging at Food for Lane County, 6:00-9:00 pm, 770 Bailey Hill Road, Eugene. For more information or to confirm your participation, email Patty.
  • January 31: Discussion group, 6:30-8:00 pm, New Day Bakery, 449 Blair, Eugene.
  • February 8: Potluck at the home of John Hannah and Mary Brooner. Please check the calendar on the website for the address. Kate Coy (Togo, 2007-2008) will describe the highlights of her experience as a PCV in a Community Health and Aids Prevention program.
  • March 4: Book group will discuss River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze, by Peter Hessler, 7:00 pm at Josette Green's home.

  • To inquire about any of these activities please send an email to info@westcascadepca.org or visit the calendar page of the WCPCA website.

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 WCPCA, would no longer like to receive the newsletter, or are interested in becoming more involved with WCPCA, please contact info@westcascadepca.org.

Contributions to ReConnections are always welcome, although the editors and the WCPCA board reserve the right to choose what will be published. Generally, if a submission relates to the Peace Corps or to 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: Deb Jones and Dorothy Soper
Newsletter Design: Felicia Kenney

December potluck thank yous

We offer a heartfelt thank you to Joyce Leader who hosted our December potluck. About 30 WCPCA members gathered at her home to enjoy a potluck of delicious and festive selections.

For the program we were entertained by a dozen "mini-views" of Peace Corps programs ranging across five decades, touching most continents, and including the Solomon Islands.

We closed 2012 with the secure feeling that Peace Corps programs are the endless source of good stories, good photos, and good works. Our thank you for preparing the program goes to Maggie Keenan.

Members present at the potluck elected the 2013 WCPCA board whose names will appear in an article below.

February potluck

Our potluck program in 2013 will be organized by Patty MacAfee and Juliet Bender. Due to their efforts we'll begin this activity on Friday, February 8th, 6:00 pm, at the home of John Hannah and Mary Brooner. Visit the calendar section of the website to learn their address and find driving directions.

For our program, WCPCA member, Kate Coy (Togo 2007-2008), will present the highlights of her Peace Corps experience while serving as a CHAP (Community Health and Aids Prevention) volunteer. Serving as a volunteer was a pivotal turning point in Kate's life, leading to her current work at the U of O on a Master's thesis in conflict and dispute resolution. She is also a small business owner and holds a seat on the Cottage Grove city council.

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

Mark your calendars for February 8th!

Looking forward to an eventful 2013 for WCPCA

Happy New Year to all RPCVs in the West Cascade Peace Corps Association! The board has begun planning activities for 2013 that will be familiar to long-term members and informative to members who are newly returned from service overseas. Four potlucks are planned in addition to the traditional Nomination (NOM) Party for those who have been nominated to begin training for the Peace Corps. We hope to continue our support for Peace Corps Partnership Projects for Volunteers who are from Oregon, especially the Eugene area. Last year we supported 4 projects for a total of $2,635 in four countries.

In addition to the traditional social activities among RPCVs, I hope that the group can expand its presence in the Eugene community. The two primary purposes of West Cascade Peace Corps Association are to promote the Third Goal of the Peace Corps: "To promote a better understanding of other people on the part of the American people," and, to promote a regional, interdisciplinary forum for charitable activities, professional development, networking, and exchange of knowledge related to understanding and assisting people from diverse cultures in the Eugene, Oregon area and in countries where Peace Corps volunteers have served.

An example of the kind of activity that would meet this goal is the invitation to RPCVs from Julia Harvey (Tonga, 1990-93) to her classroom at South Eugene High School to talk about their experiences as Volunteers to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. WCPCA has a membership with a wide variety of expertise and experience that can be applied to a myriad of settings, and this is just one example of "bringing the world back home." A speakers' bureau could form a rich resource of talent that could be shared in Eugene.

It is my hope to conduct a marketing survey among RPCVs, both those who are members of the group as well as those on our email list, to determine what talents are in the group and how those talents might be used. In the meantime, if any of you has an idea, please present it to the board or me for discussion. Do not fear: suggesting an idea will not mean that you will be required to implement it!

I look forward to the coming year with West Cascade, and meeting more of you face-to-face. It is always a joy to make a connection with an RPCV whether at Albertson's or Market of Choice, or a yarn store.

Miriam Aiken, President

Members of the 2013 WCPCA board of directors

The 2013 board was elected by a vote of the general membership at the December potluck. Please note that all board meetings are listed on the website's calendar and all WCPCA members are welcome to attend. You'll find contact information for board members on the website under "Contacts" and in the 2013 membership directory to be distributed soon.

President: Miriam Aiken, Philippines 1965-67
Treasurer: Dale Morse, Nepal 1969-71
Secretary: Lori Matthew, Benin 1994-96
Communications Coordinator: Felicia Kenney, Benin 2003-04
U of O Peace Corps Recruiter: Hannah Klausman, Mongolia 2006-08

At large:

Juliet Bender, Mexico 2009-12
James Cloutier, Kenya 1964-66
Randall Donohue, India 1970-72
Dorothy Soper, Ghana 1963-65

Thank you to the 2012 WCPCA board members

As the outgoing WCPCA president, I thank the energetic and imaginative 2012 board members for their dedication and hard work throughout their year of service. Details of our year's work will appear in the 2012 annual report that will be summarized for the membership in the February newsletter. The full report will be posted on the website.

At a personal level, I very much appreciate board members' individual efforts to pursue their work and contribute to the teamwork that propelled the board. Teamwork made the difference. Thank you to Miriam Aiken, Keith Beyer, James Cloutier, Josette Green, Maggie Keenan, Felicia Kenney, Hannah Klausman, and Dale Morse.

Dorothy Soper

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at South Eugene High School: volunteers needed on January 15th

WCPCA members have a privileged opportunity to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in presentations about the Peace Corps at South Eugene High School (SEHS). Please read about the program below and consider volunteering.

WCPCA member, Julia Harvey (Tonga, 1990-93), is a science teacher at SEHS and is organizing three panel presentations about the Peace Corps for the school's celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Tuesday, January 15th. This is not the official holiday but is the anniversary of Dr. King's birth.

There won't be the usual classes that day but instead teachers are organizing three "sessions" of which two are in the morning and one in the afternoon. Julia is putting together three panel discussions that will take place in her classroom. She would like a panel of three RPCVs at each session to talk about their Peace Corps experiences and to answer questions from students. Volunteers should show some slides as part of their presentations which will be about 20 minutes each. Julia will provide a projector and screen. Slides must be in digital format.

Volunteers would commit to participating for an hour plus a little set up and take down time. SEHS is located at 400 E. 19th Avenue in Eugene at the corner of 19th and Patterson. If you are interested, please email Julia.

Julia has entitled the program with a quotation from President John F. Kennedy, "A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on." (1963) You may recall that this quotation is printed on the back of the tee shirt that WCPCA is currently selling. If you take part in the program and have one of these tee shirts, you may want to wear it. If you don't have a tee shirt and would like to buy one, send an email to info@westcascadepca.org and someone will get in touch with you or you can purchase a shirt online through the shopping page of the WCPCA website.

Many thanks in advance to WCPCA members for supporting this activity and making the Peace Corps real for SEHS students.

International calendars on sale at a new discounted price!!!

As you read about grants that WCPCA has awarded to Peace Corps Partnership Projects, please recall that the organization must raise funds to do this through its annual sale of international calendars.

Left to sell are about 50 copies of the beautiful 2013 international calendar published by the RPCV group in Madison, WI. We've discounted the price to $8 per calendar !! Calendars are available to pick up in Eugene. Mailing a calendar costs $3.

Please consider giving calendars now, early in the year, to family members, friends, colleagues, teachers, students, employees, and anyone that you know who is interested in the world. The calendars, with their beautiful photos from twelve Peace Corps host countries and an exhaustive listing of cultural holidays from throughout the world, make beautiful gifts. There is no better gift at this price.

If you are interested in a calendar, please let us know by emailing info@westcascadepca.org and someone will call you. You may also purchase calendars through PayPal on the website on the shopping page.

The board appreciates your support as do the recipients of WCPCA grants! Visit the project page of the website to see a listing of projects funded by WCPCA since 1986. Your purchase helps make a difference in the world.

WCPCA awards grant to a Peace Corps Partnership Project in Nicaragua

At its December meeting the WCPCA board awarded $300 to Casa Materna Sustainability Project in Nicaragua. The project's director is Anna Steeves-Reece who is from Eugene and a recent graduate of the University of Oregon. Anna was in Eugene in December and attended the board meeting to describe her Peace Corps program and the project that she is organizing.

Anna explained that Casa Maternas are established throughout Nicaragua to provide medical services to pregnant women including prenatal care, medically supervised delivery, and well baby care. The federal government provides basic support for the facilities but the one targeted by this project is underfunded. It lacks sufficient food and basic supplies for the patients who frequently have to share beds.

Anna is collaborating with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health to start a mill business at the Casa Materna where she works. In rural Nicaragua, mills are extremely popular because people grind their corn, cacao, and coffee on a daily basis. At present, the neighborhood where this Casa Materna is located does not have a mill business and residents have expressed enthusiasm for creating one.

With a steady source of income the Casa Materna will improve the nutrition, health education and general comfort for the women staying there. Moreover, many women will have increased motivation to come to the Casa Materna instead of giving birth in their homes. The health center has offered to build an annex for the business, and through the Peace Corps Partnership Program Anna hopes to fund the purchase of an electric mill.

A portion of the 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.

WCPCA 2013 membership directory coming soon

Soon the 2013 WCPCA membership directory will be emailed as a .pdf file to the organization's approximately 140 members. The directory will include members' names, contact information, PCV service years, and for some, a brief bio. Members only are listed and the directory is available to members only. It's never circulated beyond the organization. The final pages include an alphabetical list of the countries of PC service represented by the membership. The directory is an excellent reference and networking tool.

The membership directory exists in .pdf form only. When you receive it, be sure to download it and save it for future reference. Individuals may print their own copies as needed. Special thanks go to Felicia Kenney and Miriam Aiken for creating the directory.

Book group's next title

The book group's next book will be River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze, by Peter Hessler, PCV, China, 1996-98. We'll gather on Monday, March 4th, 7pm, at Josette Green's home to talk about the book and how the story relates to our own Peace Corps experiences. All are welcome.

Volunteering with Food for Lane County

WCPCA members who are interested in volunteering at Food for Lane County to help sort and package food will work from 6-9 pm on Monday, January 28th, at FFL's warehouse, 770 Bailey Hill Road, Eugene. Patty MacAfee has secured a place for WCPCA volunteers in this activity on the fourth Monday of the following months in 2013: January, February, March, April, September, October, and November.

This is an excellent opportunity to serve an exemplary Lane Country organization which plays a significant role in our community, as well as to meet volunteers from other groups and introduce WCPCA to a broader base in the community. You are welcome simply to arrive at the warehouse at the appointed time and date or email Patty with questions or to confirm your coming. Please write FFLC in the subject line.

Bringing the world back home through art

Bringing the world back home is the Peace Corps' third goal and WCPCA member, Corie Hinton (Madagascar, 2008-2010), found a way to do this though an art project at Eugene's Bertha Holt Elementary School. This was the topic of a Bob Welch column in the Register Guard on 12/19/12. If you missed it, you'll find the column through this link.

The following quotation will give you the highlight and it's also good to know that Corie received a grant from the Eugene Education Foundation to finance her work. "Hinton, ... orchestrated what might qualify as a Christmas miracle: merging the collective artistic skills of 90 Bertha Holt Elementary School fourth-graders to make a four-panel mural on cloth that will hang in a hospital in Madagascar to teach healthy living to young people."

Congratulations, Corie!

Thank you from Costa Rica

In October the WCPCA board awarded $500 to the Peace Corps Partnership Project, Bridging the Gap: A Computer Classroom in Rural Costa Rica, which is organized by PCV, Rachel Huguet, from Oregon. The project will build a classroom to house computer equipment that Rachel's school has purchased through a separate grant.

WCPCA has just received a photo and note from Rachel thanking the organization and adding, "Please know that you have truly helped to improve the future of this community."

We hope that Rachael will be able to visit us to tell us more about her project after she returns to Oregon.

NPCA Advocacy

A letter dated December 5th was sent to President Obama by NPCA with the support of 115 member groups of the Peace Corps community to advocate a higher Peace Corps budget and to suggest several criteria for review in the selection of the next Peace Corps Director. WCPCA is one of the signatories to the letter.

More information about this advocacy effort is available at this link.