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

January 2014

Coming Events

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

  • January 24: Friday evening, 6-9 pm, WCPCA potluck and member slide show. This is our rescheduled December event. The forecast is for good weather!

    We'll be repeating the wildly entertaining program of previous December potlucks at which fifteen or so members shared a few slides from their Peace Corps service. We look forward to seeing slides and hearing stories spanning five decades of Peace Corps service. The election of the 2014 WCPCA board members will also be held.

    Joyce Leader will be our hostess. Find her address in the Membership Directory or on the website's calendar. Please bring a dish to share for an evening of merriment and friendship. Plates, cups, and utensils will be provided.

  • 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.

  • February 23: Sunday evening, 7-9 pm, WCPCA board meeting at Dorothy Soper's home. Dorothy's address is in the Membership Directory. All members are welcome.

  • April 12: Saturday lunch through the afternoon. WCPCA will host the annual meeting of representatives of the five northwest RPCV organizations. We'll welcome visitors from Portland, Seattle, Spokane, and Boise. All WCPCA members are invited to attend. For more details please see the article below.

  • 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 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 the WCPCA, please contact info@westcascadepca.org.

Reconnections keeps the Lane County RPCV community apprised of WCPCA's coming events, ongoing activities, 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 of directors reserves the right to select items for publication.

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

Happy New Year/ta'u fo'ou monu'a

I am looking forward to serving as President of WCPCA in 2014. I appreciate the opportunity to become more involved with the organization. I especially enjoyed supporting Peace Corps projects overseas.

I have enjoyed the Thai cooking class, book club, and the potlucks during the last six months and am excited for events to come in 2014.

The new year will bring more potlucks and book clubs as well as a summer picnic. On April 12, 2014, WCPCA will be hosting the regional meeting. Representatives from Boise, Spokane, Seattle and Portland will travel to Eugene to discuss current issues facing their organizations and to share experiences. If you are interested in helping to organize the regional meeting, please contact me.

I would like to welcome the new board members, Gary Cornelius, Jennifer Knowles, and Elke Richers, and also thank the board members who will be continuing to serve, Juliet Bender, James Cloutier, Laurette Garner, Howard Schuman and Dorothy Soper. I would also like to express my gratitude to the nominating committee for the 2014 board, Wayne Thompson.

I hope to see you in January,

Julia Harvey
WCPCA President
Tonga (1990-1993)

January Potluck

WCPCA will celebrate the new year with a potluck on Friday, January 24th, 6-9 pm. We'll share a festive dinner and have a brief membership meeting which will include electing the WCPCA board of directors for 2014. Our program will be the sharing of slides and Peace Corps stories of a dozen members or so whose service spans five decades. You'll see a preview of the visuals below.


Dominican Republic

Our hostess will be Joyce Leader. You'll find her address in the Membership Directory or on the website's calendar, www.westcascadepca.org. Please bring a dish to share for an evening of merriment and friendship. Plates, cups, and utensils will be provided.

Our thanks for organizing this and future potlucks go to Juliet Bender and Elke Richers who are program cochairs, to Maggie Keenan who has prepared the slide show, and to the WCPCA members who have contributed slides.

WCPCA board

2014 Opportunity


1.  Giving back to your community
2.  Additional exercise
3.  Table talk with RPCVs and other interesting people

Please mark your calendar for Monday, January 27, and join us at Food for Lane County.  FFLC is the largest nonprofit distributor for food in Lane County. This organization depends heavily on volunteers for collection, preparation, packaging, and distribution. 

Our local RPCV group commits 6-8 volunteers each fourth Monday of the month for packaging food.  We volunteer 6:00-9:00 pm at 770 Bailey Hill Road, Eugene. See us at work in the photos below. 

Please consider this unique opportunity in volunteering. Contact me if you have questions.

Patty MacAfee
Cameroon (1989-1991)

WCPCA crew packages food at Food for Lane County.

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 Saturday afternoon, April 12th.

The board is looking for WCPCA members who would like to help plan and conduct the meeting. All WCPCA members are invited to attend. Traditionally members of the host organization offer lodging to those attending from out of town who may number 8-10.

WCPCA will create 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 info@westcascadepca.org 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.

Successful calendar sale:

The board ordered 100 international calendars for 2014 to sell this fall as a fundraiser and is pleased that 99 calendars were sold at the full sales price which was either $10 or $12 depending upon the quantity purchased. We gave one calendar as a gift. The profit is approximately $450. We thank the Peace Corps community for supporting this effort.

Membership update:

In mid-December Membership Chair, Miriam Aiken (Philippines 1965-1967), reported that WCPCA has approximately 130 members who fall into the membership categories listed below. We welcomed approximately 25 new members this year. Individuals may join the organization directly or through the National Peace Corps Association. Details about joining WCPCA are on the Membership page of the website.

Individuals pay annual dues of $15 whether they join through WCPCA or NPCA. For families, however, WCPCA offers a discounted annual membership fee of $22 which isn't available through NPCA. Three categories of members, PCVs, students, and first year members, owe no dues.

Currently, membership dues are WCPCA's primary source of income and the level covers fixed and basic operational expenses. Exact numbers will be available in the final treasurer's report for 2013 which will be posted on the Business page of the website along with the organization's annual report.

The board will soon publish the 2014 Membership Directory as a .pdf file. The directory will list the names and Peace Corps service information for members and will be distributed by email to members only. We would like the directory to be as inclusive of the Lane County Peace Corps community as possible and encourage all members who need to renew to do so and those on the mailing list who are not members to consider joining. We need member support to maintain the organization and to contribute to humanitarian projects. The Membership Directory, itself, is a valuable networking tool. Many thanks for your support!

WCPCA membership, 12/15/13:

36 Individuals in families(18 families)
62 Individuals
13 PCVs
 6 Students
12 First year members

Total: 129

Nominees for the 2014 WCPCA board of directors:

This slate of nominees was presented to the board by Wayne Thompson (Peru 1964-1966) acting as the nominating committee. The names and brief biographies were published in the December newsletter and are repeated below. The 2014 board will be elected by the membership at the January potluck.


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 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.

Mexico RPCVs Start Nonprofit to Continue their Community Service

Three WCPCA members and Mexico RPCVs, Juliet Bender (2009-2012), Charles Goldsmith (2009-2012), and Walt Meyer (2006-2008), have created a nonprofit organization in the U.S. to continue the work they began as Peace Corps volunteers. The Central Mexico Youth Fund (See its website at http://centralmexicoyouthfund.org.) was founded in March 2013 with the objective of supporting activities in Mexico that help children, adolescents, and young adults get a quality education and lead productive lives in their own country. It partners with legally recognized and registered organizations in Mexico to support the efforts of these young people to improve their lives and contribute to their families and communities.

The Central Mexico Youth Fund works with three organizations in Querétaro, Mexico, to achieve its goal:

El Puente de Esperanza offers a residence in the city and pays the secondary school fees, university tuition, and living expenses for academically promising young students, most of whom grew up in indigenous communities.

Cadena de Ayuda provides a residence and living expenses to young men from rural areas who have received university scholarships to study in Querétaro City, and also offers help with tuition expenses and access to computer equipment and services to young women and men who live with their families or friends in the city.

Niños y Niñas delivers pre-school and after-school tutoring programs to children from indigenous communities who otherwise would be selling candy in the streets. It provides them two healthy meals each day and its skilled teachers assist the children with their homework and social development.

The following sentiments are expressed by Mariela, one of the beneficiaries of El Puente, but they reflect an attitude common to all the students in these programs:

"For me, being in El Puente means having the chance to continue my studies. My family doesn't have the resources necessary to pay for both my studies and those of my siblings, given that there are seven of us of school age. That's why El Puente is my only option to achieve my dreams to study, to become a professional, to aspire to have a better future and to be able to help my family. I've never been a person who gives up. I like to study and I want to learn at least two languages. I know that I won't disappoint myself or the people that believe and trust me."

The Central Mexico Youth Fund is recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization by the IRS, so contributions to it are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. You can support these diligent young Mexicans by contributing to the Central Mexico Youth Fund. Please contact me at centralmexicoyouthfund@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Charles Goldsmith
Mexico, 2009-2012

Children in the Niños y Niñas program

Graduates of El Puente de Esperanza

Update on Kenya Project

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. She recently emailed the following update on her work. You'll see that she continues to negotiate the world of NGOs, a somewhat new province for PCVs.

"I just heard from NGO World Connect and they have agreed to provide a grant of $5,000. This means that $6,565 remains to be raised for the books. I'm filling out an application for UK NGO Feed the Minds (for $6,500) right now so hopefully they will agree to the remainder and the project will be past the hardest part and into the easiest part where the schools just raise their 3,650KSH which they are all super confident they can do!"

Amber also reports that a Scouts Troop at Kasooni Primary School, which will be served by her project, is looking forward to having books "that will help them accomplish many of the projects that lead to badges in the Scouts program. For example, one of the badges is the World Culture badge and books will help them to research a foreign country to write a report on."

WCPCA board