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

October 2013

Coming Events

  • October 6: Sunday evening: WCPCA board meeting, 7 pm, home of Dorothy Soper. All members are welcome.

  • October 10: Thursday evening: The discussion group will meet 6:30-8:30 pm at the New Day Bakery, 449 Blair Avenue, Eugene.

  • October 11: Friday evening: WCPCA potluck, 6pm, at the home of Juliet Bender and Charles Goldsmith. See the website's calendar for their address and directions to their home. The program will be Nancy and Walt Meyer's description of their work with Stove Team International in Mexico. This effort includes the work of PCVs in Mexico.

  • October 24: Thursday evening: The discussion group will meet 6:30-8:30 pm at the New Day Bakery, 449 Blair Avenue, Eugene.

  • October 28: Monday evening, 6-9 pm, join the WCPCA crew at the Food for Lane County warehouse, 770 Bailey Hill Road, Eugene, to package food donations into family size containers.

  • November 4: Monday evening, 7-9 pm: The book group will discuss a newly published book, Peace Corps in Panama: Fifty Years, Many Voices, by Meredith W. Cornett. Thirty authors reflect on their Peace Corps experiences in Panama. RPCVs who worked in Panama are especially encouraged to come. The meeting will be at the home of Dorothy Soper. Her address is in the membership directory.

  • November 25: Monday evening, 6-9 pm, join the WCPCA crew at the Food for Lane County warehouse, 770 Bailey Hill Road, Eugene, to package food donations into family size containers.

  • 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 www.westcascadepca.org on the "News" page. 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.

ReConnections serves as a resource to RPCVs and friends in the Eugene and Lane County area through social events, community service projects, and professional development programs that embody the 3rd Goal and spirit of the Peace Corps. The WCPCA board reserves the right to choose which activities, projects, and programs will be published. Suggested items may be submitted to info@westcascadepca.org for consideration.

Editors: Deb Jones and Dorothy Soper
Newsletter Design: Felicia Kenney

Camp Unity West, Ukraine

In May WCPCA contributed $465 as one of the sponsors of Camp Unity West, a Peace Corps partnership project in the Chernivetska region of Ukraine. One of the camp's organizers and counselors was PCV Sarah Meher from Oregon. The camp took place July 6-13. Last month you read Sarah's account of the camp which was for high school students. This month we received the delightful photo below of two camp counselors and several student campers holding a thank you message to us.

WCPCA has also received thank you letters from three students. A few quotations from these letters will assure you of the students' enthusiasm.

"I spent wonderful time at this camp. It was excellent! We learned about discrimination, framing differences, open/close minded people, equality or inequality. I felt happy when I played different, interesting and new games for me with my team, Red Bulls!"

"This camp is a fantastic thing - I learned so many new things and met a lot of new and interesting people."

"The swimming in the river, making pinatas, and learning salsa dancing was also great!"

"My favorite thing about Camp Unity was that I improved my English."

"In Camp Unity I changed my opinions. I became more friendly, helpful, active, open for communication."

"Thank you for your kindness and money."

"We all want to stay."

You'll find a full description of the camp on the "projects" page of the website.

WCPCA board

U of O Street Faire Coming Soon

Laurette Garner (Madagascar, 2004-06), the new U of O Peace Corps recruiter, invites the Lane County Peace Corps community to help staff the Peace Corps booth during the fall Street Faire at the U of O, October 9-11, Wednesday morning through mid-day on Friday. She expects robust student interest in the Peace Corps and, of course, beautiful fall weather to enhance the booth experience for all.

Laurette has posted a spread sheet through Google Drive on which you may sign up for a slot. Click here to do that. If you have questions, please email Laurette at pcorps@uoregon.edu. She'll prepare a fact sheet to update RPCVs on current Peace Corps practices and attributes.

Laurette is also the recruiter for the local community and therefore is looking forward to meeting as many RPCVs as possible. Some of you might invite her to speak at a local organization. Laurette plans an active role on the WCPCA board and will attend the October potluck where she'll tell us about the Street Faire.

Supporting the U of O Peace Corps recruiter is a longstanding WCPCA activity. Let's welcome Laurette with a strong response to her request.

WCPCA board

Final Report on the Membership Survey

Three WCPCA members developed a survey questionnaire to find out what kinds of new activities would be likely to engage the participation of members and friends (potential members) of the Association. An initial notice of the survey and link to the survey site was announced in the June 2013 WCPCA newsletter. Due to a very low response to this initial notice, it was decided to reopen the survey and reach out to the 370 individuals on the WCPCA email list.

An email was sent on June 28, 2013 providing the links and a brief description of the purpose of the survey and how to provide responses. The survey was reopened from July 1 thru July 18. A total of 39 respondents completed the survey's 9 questions. Of this number, four respondents submitted additional comments and suggestions. It is hoped that this report on findings, summarized below, will guide the board in planning new WCPCA activities.

New Activities respondents are most likely to participate in:

The following rank order combines "Possibly Would Participate" and "Definitely Would Participate" responses:

  • Speaking at local schools and service clubs (N = 15; 39.47%)

  • Mentoring RPCVs for career planning and leveraging their experience (N = 13; 34.21%)

  • Attending regional RPCV events and meetings (N =12; 31.58%)

  • Financial or technical support, in cooperation with Peace Corps, for current projects by Oregon volunteers (N = 10; 26.31%)

  • Cooking Club (N = 9; 23.68%)

  • Hosting local international high school/college students (e.g. holiday celebrations) (N = 6; 15.79%)

  • Outdoor recreational activities such as cycling or golf (N = 6; 15.79%)

  • Writers Group (N =4; 10.81%)

  • Leadership, Coordinate one of the new activities above (N = 3; 8.57%)

    Age of respondents: The majority of respondents (N = 21; 53.85%) are between the ages of 60 and 79, an age range when more individuals have time/opportunity for participating in volunteers activities.

    Low interest in coordinating or leading new activities: While the majority of respondents are in an age range typical for volunteer leadership, interest in coordinating new activities was rated lowest in probable/definite participation (N = 3; 8.57%). Obviously, activities will require individuals to step forward to coordinate them. It's not possible to know from the survey if there are specific activities that members would have an interest in coordinating. The board might request this information when it distributes the results of the survey to the membership.

    Miriam Aiken, Philippines, 1965-67
    Randall Donahue, India, 1970-72
    John Hannah, Ethiopia, 1964-66, Africa region staff, 1970-72, Liberia, 1972-75

    Survey committee, 8/18/13

    Board's Response to the Membership Survey

    The WCPCA board thanks the members of the survey committee, Miriam Aiken, Randall Donohue, and John Hannah for their work and those who responded to the survey for their contribution. We also thank Howard Schuman who served as board liaison to the committee. Board members have read the report and discussed it via email and will continue the discussion at the October meeting. Our initial observations follow.

  • The top interests expressed in the survey are speaking at local schools and service clubs, mentoring RPCVs for career planning and leveraging their experience, attending regional RPCV events and meetings, and offering financial or technical support to the Peace Corps Partnership projects of Oregon PCVs. There are opportunities for the membership to pursue some of these activities immediately.

    WCPCA will host the regional meeting of northwest RPCV groups in the early spring of 2014. We hope that those interested in regional meetings will step forward to help with planning and organizing the meeting. Please email WCPCA president, Julia Harvey, if you are interested in helping.

    To support recent WCPCA survey results, board member, Howard Schuman, (Thailand, 1968-70; Malaysia staff, 1973) has volunteered to coordinate a mentoring program for new (and not so new) RPCVs for career development. Howard has offered international career development workshops as part of his consulting career and is author of Making It Abroad - The International Job Hunting Guide (John Wiley). He plans to work with members who are looking for ways to enhance their career options through coaching and matching them up with others in targeted job fields. He will discuss his ideas at our next potluck on October 11th. Howard will also present at a future potluck on "How To Become an International Consultant (at any age!)".

    There is an article in the member section of this newsletter about an inquiry from an Oregon PCV in Mozambique who has an idea for a Peace Corps Partnership project and asks if there is someone in the Eugene area who can advise him on how to prepare a persuasive grant proposal. If you can help, please see the article for further details.

    Other opportunities await volunteers to organize and support them. Members who would like to join the activities described above, place and coordinate speakers for local organizations, offer mentoring opportunities, or have other ideas for activities are invited to talk to the board about them. Board meetings are listed in the calendar of the newsletter and are posted on the website. We ask only that you notify the board president of your interest in attending so that she can organize the agenda accordingly.

    WCPCA board

    2014 International Calendars

    WCPCA will sell 100 international calendars for 2014 as a fall fundraising activity. This is the newest calendar published by the Madison, Wisconsin RPVC group. Once again, the photos are poignant, evocative, and breathtaking. The calendar lists daily holidays from throughout the world and includes a brief history of the Peace Corps connection with the thirteen host countries represented in the photographs. These calendars will be much appreciated and admired holiday gifts and a focal point for classroom discussions.

    The calendars sell individually for $12 each; five or more may be purchased by a single party for $10 each. They'll be available at WCPCA gatherings this fall. If you want to buy and pick one or more up directly, let us know by emailing info@westcascadepca.org and writing "calendar" in the subject line. Someone will call you. Calendars may also be ordered through PayPal on the website for $14.50 which includes the mailing cost. The board hopes to earn about $600 from calendar sales to fund humanitarian projects. With your help we can do it.

    The board is looking for a calendar sales rep who can develop and oversee our sales effort. We'd like to place calendars in local businesses. This will be a short and surely successful activity for an energetic sales person! A hundred calendars will sell fast (15 sold already). If you can help us or have questions please send an email to the address above. Thanks to all in advance for supporting this effort.

    WCPCA board

    Update on WCPCA business

  • Denotes volunteer opportunities described below

    Empty Bowls: A dozen WCPCA members and friends volunteered to work on the clean up crew of Food for Lane County's fall fundraiser, Empty Bowls, which took place at the FLC warehouse on September 7th. Our thank you goes to all who took part and to James Cloutier who coordinated this effort.

    Treasurer's report: WCPCA treasurer, Dale Morse, distributed an updated financial statement to the board on September 25th. A summary of current balances is below:

    Total balance in accounts at the Oregon Community Credit Union (OCCU): $6,588.

    Approximate balance in the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund, an endowed account invested at the Oregon Community Foundation: $26,500

    Bylaws amendment: At its April meeting the board voted to recommend to the membership a bylaws amendment to make them consistent with the 2012 revision to Article VII of the constitution. The board will ask the membership to approve of this amendment at the October potluck.

    Proposal: in Article V, Section 4 of the bylaws, strike the second part of the sentence. "The Board of Directors meets as the need arises but shall meet at least once a month."

    Funding humanitarian projects: The board budgeted $2,000 to fund humanitarian projects this year. To date one Peace Corps Partnership project, Camp Unity West in Ukraine, has been funded for $465. At the October 6th meeting the board will review other projects for funding. If members have a recommendation please let the board know by emailing info@westcascadepca.org and writing "Project funding" in the subject line. The board can fund only projects that have a 501 (c) (3) status with the IRS.

  • Recruiting board members for 2014: Soon a nominating committee will be appointed to identify WCPCA members who are interested in serving on the 2014 board. Some current board members will continue but at this time the board knows that candidates for several offices will be needed.

    The board meets four times a year and communicates via email in the interim. Board members typically serve on a committee as well. To learn more please talk to a board member. Their names are listed on the "Contacts" page of the website. You may also send an email to info@westcascadepca.org and write "board" in the subject line. A board member will contact you. The names of those nominated will be emailed to the membership in late November or early December. The 2014 board will be elected at the December potluck.

  • Spring 2014 regional meeting of RPCV organizations in Eugene: Responsibility to organize the annual meeting of representatives of the five northwest RPCV organizations (Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Boise, and Eugene) rotates on a five year cycle. WCPCA will host the meeting next spring. The date hasn't been set.

    The board will soon appoint a committee to plan the meeting and is looking for WCPCA members to serve. Members are also invited to attend the meeting. Traditionally members of the host organization offer lodging to those attending from out of town.

    If you are willing to help plan and organize the meeting, or offer lodging please email info@westcascadepca.org and write "regional meeting" in the subject line.

  • Bon voyage to Felicia and Joel

    WCPCA Communications Director, Felicia Kenney, will soon depart Eugene with her husband, Joel, for an extended stay in Russia. At least initially they'll be students of the Russian language while enjoying the culture, especially music. Felicia's departure will close the initial chapter of the organization's embrace of the digital world. I asked Felicia recently to share that history as well as her own with me so that I can tell the related stories to our readers.

    Felicia grew up in Tuscon, Arizona, and attended high school in New Jersey. As a student at Barnard College, she studied creative writing and economics but took computer science classes for fun. After graduating she became a webmaster for a Madison Avenue company and then moved on to work for an internet service provider. Felicia telecommuted to that job when she left NYC and until she joined the Peace Corps while living in Eugene.

    Looking for new opportunities and inspired by a cousin working as a PCV in Uganda, Felicia applied to the Peace Corps and in 2003 accepted an assignment as an IT volunteer in Benin. Her assignment evolved into her working for a microfinance bank and also in various information sharing projects that used databases to facilitate sharing. She also repaired computers that had broken down under Benin's dusty conditions.

    As was typical of PCVs working in malaria zones at the time, Felicia took Lariam/Mefloquine as a malaria prophylaxis. Early in her work in Benin she became ill with what was most likely a reaction to the drug. The Peace Corps' medical service was unable to treat Felicia adequately and, as a result, she had to leave the Peace Corps for medical reasons at the conclusion of her first year.

    Felicia returned to Eugene in 2004 and, although ill, contacted WCPCA and took part in a few activities. She felt welcomed by the group and in a short time realized that the organization could use technical help. In 2006, working with the late Beryl Brinkman, one of WCPCA's founding members, Felicia posted the newsletters, then mailed in paper form, on the website. Continuing to work with Beryl and the board, she created a digitized membership database. Next came a redesign of the website and in 2008 Felicia created and for several years edited the electronic newsletter that replaced the paper version. Until recently Felicia served as the WCPCA webmaster. For the last five years she has been the organization's Communications Coordinator, overseeing all of the IT operations.

    Now, some seven years after Felicia began working with Beryl, WCPCA members may think of the technical aspects of the organization as givens, but it's more accurate to think of them as creations and thank Felicia for them and much more that she has contributed. These developments allow us, for instance, to maintain the membership database efficiently, encourage those joining and renewing memberships in WCPCA to do so online through the website, sell merchandise through the website, create the newsletter and membership directory digitally and distribute them via email thus saving not only volunteer time but substantial costs. With these efficiencies and savings we keep membership dues low and can contribute more to humanitarian projects. The more efficient organization most likely enabled us to gain recognition from the IRS as a nonprofit organization. Maintaining a website gives us legitimacy in the nonprofit world and enables the board to share information quickly and easily with the Peace Corps community as a whole.

    Meanwhile, Felicia has worked diligently to regain her health while lobbying the Peace Corps to be more responsive to the medical needs of PCVs and to offer alternatives to Lariam/Mefloquin for PCVs serving in malaria zones. She and like minded RPCVs, supported by the NPCA, have formed a group called Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers to advocate for better health care for PCVs and RPCVs. The group's mission is described on its website.

    In 2012 the group posted a questionnaire online through the NPCA asking RPCVs about their medical experience with the Peace Corps. Survey results were summarized in the May, 2013, WCPCA newsletter and discussed more fully in Felicia's article in the spring issue of the NPCA publication, World View. The full report is available here. The group has enjoyed some success as the Peace Corps has increased its medical staff and taken other positive steps to protect the health of PCVs and treat RPCVs who suffer from Peace Corps related infirmities. This is an important ongoing effort that we'll follow.

    When Felicia and Joel are in Russia we'll miss not only Felicia's technical expertise but also her company as well as her other contributions to WCPCA, especially her efforts to organize the discussion group. Felicia will send us updates on her activities from time to time.

    To Felicia we give our thanks for bringing us into the digital world and teaching us how to stay afloat here. We wish her and Joel much adventure and the opportunity to learn in a new land and in new digs. We'll miss them but we'll stay in touch. Bon voyage, Felicia and Joel!

    Dorothy Soper, (Ghana, 1963-65)
    for the board

    Grant proposal writing with an Oregon PCV in Mozambique

    WCPCA member, Shannon Micheel, is in touch with an Oregon PCV in his second year of service in Mozambique. The volunteer graduated from the U of O and attended the NOM party in 2012. He's working as a high school teacher and is interested in writing a grant proposal for a Peace Corps Partnership Project. He's asked Shannon to inquire if there is someone in Eugene who might help him develop a persuasive proposal.

    If you have skills in this field and are willing to mentor a PCV, please let Shannon know. You'll find her email address in the membership directory or you can send an email to info@westcascadepca.org and write "Mozambique" in the subject line.

    Thanks in advance to WCPCA members for their support.

    Sale to support Thembanathi's work with HIV/AIDS affected children

    WCPCA member, Julie Bosustow, wants the Peace Corps community to know of a fundraising activity that she's helping organize for Thembanathi (Hope with Us in Zulu), a non-profit organization that has been providing support, care, and hope for children affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa since 2004. This year the organization plans to build a new early childhood education center for vulnerable children in a community that has had no services for young children.

    To support Thembanathi there will be a South African Jewelry and Craft show and sale on Sunday, November 3rd, from noon to 6pm at the Covey Lane Clubhouse, 435 Covey Lane, Eugene. The clubhouse is the first building on the left as you enter the Quail Run community.

    There will be a variety of hand-crafted items made by Zulu women in employment projects in an area of South Africa struggling with one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world, as well the long-standing effects of inequality, poverty, and unemployment. For further information you are welcome to contact Julie at 541-844-1954.