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

December 2013

Coming Events

  • December 6: Friday evening, 6-9 pm, WCPCA potluck at the home of Joyce Leader.

    We will be repeating the wildly entertaining program of last year's December potluck at which fifteen or so members shared a few slides from their Peace Corps service. We enjoyed slides and stories spanning five decades.

    You'll find the address and driving directions on the website's calendar. Please bring a dish to share.

  • December 15: Sunday evening, 7 pm, WCPCA board meeting at Dorothy Soper's home. All members are welcome. Dorothy's address is in the Membership Directory.

  • December 19: Thursday evening, 6:30 - 8:00 pm, discussion group, New Day Bakery, 449 Blair Avenue, Eugene. See article below for discussion questions.

  • January 6: Monday evening, 7-9 pm, the book group will discuss The Farm on the River of Emeralds by Moritz Thomsen. We will meet at Patty Mac Afee's place. Please bring a small snack to share.  Patty's address is in the Membership Directory.

  • January 27: 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.

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

Reconnections keeps the Lane County RPCV community apprised of WCPCA's coming events, ongoing activities and business affairs, and community activities judged to be of general interest to the local Peace Corps community.

Submissions to Reconnections are welcome and may be emailed to info@westcascadepca.org. The WCPCA board reserves the right to select items for publication.

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

Nominations for the 2014 WCPCA Board of Directors

We thank Wayne Thompson (Peru, 1964-1966) for his work as the nominating committee to identify candidates for the 2014 WCPCA board of directors. Wayne has put together a slate of eight candidates that includes both longtime and new WCPCA members. Four candidates have recently returned from their Peace Corps service. The U of O Peace Corps recruiter serves as an ex officio member of the board. You'll see the nominees' names with brief biographies in the next article. WCPCA members attending the December 6th potluck will vote on the slate.

We are still searching for a candidate for treasurer. The accounting system is well organized on a spreadsheet thanks to the work of our current treasurer, Dale Morse, and his predecessor, Jack Meacham. The next treasurer will need to continue this system. Anyone interested is invited to contact Wayne or a board member.

WCPCA board

Slate of nominees for the 2014 Board of Directors


President: Julia Harvey, (Tonga, 1990-1993)

Julia grew up in Eugene and joined WCPCA in the mid 1990s shortly after returning from her Peace Corps service in Tonga. She has served as president since May. Julia is a science teacher at South Eugene High School.

Vice President: Juliet Bender, (Mexico, 2009-2012)

Juliet and her husband lived in the Washington DC area until they retired and joined the Peace Corps. They moved to Eugene after their Peace Corps service. Juliet served in an at-large position on the board in 2013. She served as program cochair in 2013 and will continue in that role in 2014.

Secretary: Gary Cornelius, (South Africa, 2012-2013)

Gary retired from working in Oregon's public mental health system just before joining the Peace Corps. He's published a novel about his work in mental health and is currently writing a Peace Corps memoir. Gary joins the board for the first time.

Treasurer: Position not yet filled.

At large board members

James Cloutier, (Kenya, 1964-1966) James has served on the board for several years. He's long been responsible for organizing WCPCA's participation in the Eugene Celebration's parade and for recruiting volunteers to support for Food for Lane County fundraisers. James is a commercial artist who has created many tee shirt designs for the group including the JFK design for the shirt now on sale.

Laurette Garner, (Madagascar, 2004-2006) Laurette is the new Peace Corps recruiter at the University of Oregon where she is a graduate student. WCPCA members support her work and cosponsor with her office a party in the spring to celebrate those newly invited to be Peace Corps trainees. Laurette will be an ex officio member of the board.

Jennifer Knowles, (Macedonia, 2009-2011) Jennifer is a social worker in Eugene and has belonged to WCPCA since she returned from her Peace Corps service. She joins the board for the first time and will work on membership.

Elke Richers, (Peru, 2010-2012) Elke grew up in Eugene and graduated from the U of O in 2008. As a PCV she worked in Youth Development in the mountains of Peru. She'll join the board for the first time and will work on program planning.

Howard Schuman, (Thailand, 1968-70; Malaysia training staff, 1973) Howard is a longtime member of WCPCA and has been on the board since May. He's organizing a mentoring program and cooking lessons for the group. Howard works as an international consultant with financial institutions in developing countries.

Dorothy Soper, (Ghana, 1963-1965) Dorothy is a longtime WCPCA member and has served on the board for several years. She coedits the newsletter with Deb Jones. Dorothy has retired from teaching in the Eugene public schools.

Wayne Thompson, (Peru, 1964-1966)
Nominating Committee

December potluck with a program of memorable photos from members' service

On Friday, December 6th, 6-9 pm, we will be repeating the wildly entertaining program of last year's successful December potluck at which fifteen or so members shared a few slides from their Peace Corps service. Come and share a panorama of fifty years of Peace Corps adventures.

We'll gather at the west Eugene home of WCPCA member, Joyce Leader (Zaire & Hqtrs Staff, 1976-1981). For Joyce's address and driving directions, consult the calendar on the website. Please bring a dish to share for an evening of merriment and friendship.

Juliet Bender, (Mexico, 2009-2012)
Program Cochair

Thai Cooking Class Debut

On November 11, a lucky group of nine West Cascade RPCVs gathered at the home of Joyce Leader to enjoy the culinary skills of Jeem Peterson, (Philippines, 1982-1985; Solomon Islands, (1995-1997) . Jeem instructed the group on how to put together a five course Thai dinner including lemon grass soup, pad Thai, and mangoes with sticky rice. Jeem had one participant cook along-side him for each dish, and then the group had a taste comparison for the two versions of each course.

You'll see Jeem at work and his happy students in the photos below. Participants said the evening was a kind of Asian-style preparation for Thanksgiving, given the variety and amount of delights to be consumed. All agreed that another class must be held. In fact, the class was oversubscribed and Jeem has offered to host another session most likely in February.

How about another RPCV offering a class teaching a different cuisine? If you are interested please email me.

Howard Schuman
(Thailand, 1968-70; Malaysia training staff, 1973)

Holiday shopping: think of
Peace Corps calendars and tee shirts

To raise funds for humanitarian projects, WCPCA is selling international calendars produced by the Madison, WI returned volunteers' group, and its own "JFK" tee shits designed by WCPCA member, James Cloutier. These are holiday gifts with a message that will be welcomed by your family and friends.

Both items will be available at the December potluck or you may contact us at the "info" email address to buy them directly in Eugene. They are also available online through the website where you'll find photos of them.

Note for those interested in calendars: the board ordered 100 calendars this year and only 22 are left at the time of this writing. Reserve your calendar now to pick up at the potluck!

The calendars sell individually for $12; five or more may be purchased together for $10 each. Tee shirts cost $20 each.

Read later in the newsletter about a project in Kenya, organized by an Oregon PCV, that the board recently funded. Your support makes such donations possible!

WCPCA board

WCPCA Book Group

Please join us in the new year to read and discuss books by RPCV authors.  We meet the first Monday every other month.   Monday, January 6 , 2014 will be our next meeting; the book is The Farm on the River of Emeralds by Moritz Thomsen.  

We will meet at Patty Mac Afee's place from 7-9pm, please  bring a small snack to share.  Patty's address is in the WCPCA Membership Directory.

Patty MacAfee
(Cameroon, 1989-1991)

Discussion Group's December Topics

Opening topics for the discussion group's December meeting will be:

Were you and fellow Peace Corps Volunteers able to observe American holidays while living abroad?   If so, do you have stories to share?  Are there holidays and holiday traditions from your host country that you now observe with family and friends in Eugene?  If so, please share.

Jack Meacham
(Turkey, 1967-1969)

Update on WCPCA Business 

Spring 2014 regional meeting of northwest 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 this spring on a Saturday afternoon in April. The specific date hasn't been set.

The board will soon appoint a committee to plan the meeting and is looking for WCPCA members who would like to help with this activity. WCPCA members are invited to attend the meeting. Traditionally members of the host organization offer lodging to those attending from out of town who may number 8-10.

WCPCA will set the agenda for the meeting. The board will identify topics of widespread mutual interest for discussion. If you have suggestions for a topic, please let a board member know.

If you are willing to help plan and organize the meeting or offer lodging, please send an email to the "info" address and write "regional meeting" in the subject line. Let the board know how you would like to help.

This is a good time for WCPCA members to get acquainted with the other northwest RPCV organizations through their websites. You'll find the relevant links on the Links page of the WCPCA website.

2014 WCPCA membership directory:

The annual WCPCA membership directory lists the names, Peace Corps service and contact information, and brief bios for WCPCA members. The directory is issued in the early part of the calendar year as a .pdf file that is distributed by email to members only.

If you're thinking of joining WCPCA or if you haven't yet renewed for 2014, please take that step before the end of the year so that you'll be included in the 2014 directory. The directory is a convenient reference for WCPCA activities and an excellent networking tool for the Lane County Peace Corps community.

To renew, join, or update your contact information or bio, go to the membership page of the website and fill out the membership/update form. Follow directions there to submit the form and any dues payment that may be required.

Project Update from PCV Amber Gomes

In October WCPCA donated $1,200 to Maisha Elfu (A Thousand Lives in KiSwahili) a project being organized by PCV Amber Gomes of Bend, OR. The project's goal is to supply books to libraries in 56 schools in the Kalawa Division of eastern Kenya that are participating in a literacy boost inspired by two organizations, Save the Children, and World Vision.

The books will be donated by the American organization, Books for Africa, but shipping costs will be charged. Amber is working to fund the anticipated cost of $13,000 for shipping.

Amber sent us an email to let us know of her progress. She reports that her younger brother's class at Three Rivers Elementary School in Sunriver is preparing a fundraiser and hoping to contribute $300. Amber is submitting grant proposals for shipping costs to several NGOs and also recently submitted her proposal to the Peace Corps Partnership Program. She expects that it will soon be listed on the Peace Corps website.

Amber sent us photos that show students in two classes that will benefit from her project. These classrooms were included in the baseline survey to determine literacy rates for the area involved. Amber is pleased that the survey will be repeated in two years and anticipates that a rise in the literacy rate will be linked to the arrival of additional books in the school libraries.

Amber's energy and focus on this project are to be admired! We look forward to hearing again about her progress. We might be fortunate enough to welcome Amber in Eugene after she returns to Oregon.

WCPCA board

Photos of Iran

Allann Bros. will be hosting a show of photos of Iran taken by WCPCA member, John Hofer, (Morocco 1969-70). They will include portraits of Iranians and pictures of Iranian art and architecture, taken in Iran last year. The photos will be on display all December at Allann Brothers, 152 W. 5th, in Eugene.

Memoir Published

WCPCA member, Norma LeBard, (Belize, 1986-1988) has just published her Peace Corps memoir, A Home for the Elderly in Belize, Central America, which she'll be happy to share with all who are interested.  The home in question, the Octavia Wright Home for the Aged, just celebrated its 25th anniversary!  Norma says that she is thrilled to see this success.

For those who would like a copy of the memoir, Norma will appreciate a $20 contribution to cover the cost of the printing and binding.

WCPCA board