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

May 2014

Coming Events

  • May 7-10: U of O Spring Street Faire, the U of O Peace Corps representative will have a table to inform students about the Peace Corps and needs RPCVs to help with tabling. See the article below for details.

  • May 20:Tuesday evening, 7-9 pm, the book group will discuss Mango Elephants in the Sun: How Life in an African Village Let Me Be in My Skin by Susana Herrera. We'll meet at Josette Green's home. Her address is in the Membership Directory. All are welcome.

  • May 30:Friday evening, 6-8 pm, NOM party to honor the newly-nominated Peace Corps trainees. Mark your calendars now for this fun evening of celebration, which is a potluck, at the Many Nations Longhouse on the U of O campus. See the article below for further details.

  • July 11-13:Oregon Country Fair! WCPCA will share a table in the Community Village. We're looking for volunteers to represent the local Peace Corps community. See the article below.

  • July 27:Sunday afternoon, potluck/picnic at Fox Hollow Farm and Fiber, home of Rolly and Wayne Thompson. We'll see their beautiful farm and learn of their work to raise sheep and alpacas and their activities in the wool/spinning/weaving /knitting world. More details in the June newsletter. Save the date!

  • August 16:Saturday afternoon, potluck/barbecue/swimming party at the peaceful Pleasant Hill farm of Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi. More details in the June newsletter. Save the date!

  • August 23-24:Weekend of the Eugene Celebration! WCPCA will join the parade on Saturday morning and have a booth on both days. Volunteer to talk about the Peace Corps, share your experiences as PCVs, and sell international calendars and tee shirts. More details later. Save the dates!

  • 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 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

Regional Meeting a Success

The Regional Meeting held in Eugene on April 12th was a success.  Representatives from Seattle, Portland, Spokane, Boise and Eugene participated.  We shared our successful events and discussed challenges that our organizations face.  Each group took away ideas to improve member participation. Minutes of the meeting will soon be posted on the WCPCA website.

I want to thank everyone who helped to organize and facilitate this event.  The meeting would not have been possible without the participation of many.

Thank you,

Julia Harvey, President
Tonga, 1990-1993

Appreciation for the April Potluck

A sincere thank you is extended to Juliet Bender and Charles Goldsmith who opened their home to us for the April potluck. We enjoyed an enthusiastic gathering of about 30 people who dined on delicious dishes offered by our members. It was truly an international dinner.

Potluck dining

Learning about Madagascar and Peace Corps recruiting

Laurette Garner, the U of O Peace Corps representative, showed us slides from her PC program in Madagascar, 2004-2006, and described her activities as a volunteer. She also updated us on the Peace Corps and her work to inform the Lane County community as well as U of O students about the Peace Corps and the available volunteer opportunities.

We were interested to learn that about 7,000 PCVs now serve; about 60% of current Peace Corps applicants are women; applicants may now indicate their country preferences for service if their skill set fits a country’s requests; knowledge of a second language and previous volunteer service are highly desired by the PC; PC applications are online only and the application process remains competitive.

The interest of U of O students in the Peace Corps remains robust thanks to the work of the very capable recruiters that we have had the privilege to meet and work with. We appreciated Laurette's bringing us up to date on the Peace Corps and her work.

WCPCA board

Volunteers Sought for the Spring Street Faire at the U of O

Hello West Cascades! It's that time of year again! The Spring Street Faire that takes place on the U of O campus will be May 7th 'til May 10th. I will be tabling all four days and I would love some company and some help:). I don't know the exact location of our booth yet but I can send a more detailed email in the next week to those that sign up.

I have attached a link to direct you to the sign up Excel sheet. Let me know if you have problems with it by emailing me at, pcorps@uoregon.edu. And here you’ll find more info about the Spring Street Faire.

Thanks again for all your help!! I couldn't do it without you!

Laurette Garner, Madagascar, 2004-2006
U of O Peace Corps Representative

Honoring New Peace Corps Trainees at the NOM Party

Once again the U of O Peace Corps recruiter's office and WCPCA will co-sponsor the NOM party to celebrate Lane County residents who are newly nominated as Peace Corps trainees. We'll celebrate with a potluck on Friday, May 30th, 6:00-8:00 pm, at the Many Nations Longhouse on the U of O campus.

Please wear your country-of-service clothing and bring a potluck dish to share. It will be a fun-filled evening, which will include great food, a short program, and a warm send-off for the nominees.

The Many Nations Longhouse is located on the U of O campus, at the north end of Columbia Street, just off of E. 17th Avenue. The Longhouse is behind the School of Law (1515 Agate Street) and immediately south of the Museum of Natural and Cultural History (1680 E. 15th Avenue). There is limited parking available in front of the Longhouse. On street parking is available on Agate Street, in front of the Law School, or on E. 15th Avenue, as well as elsewhere nearby.

Juliet Bender, Program co-chair
Mexico, 2009-2012

Updating the WCPCA Facebook Page

WCPCA is working on a new Facebook page to help RPCVs in the Eugene area stay connected!  Please visit the page and "like" it so that we can continue accessing new features!  Also, if you have any photographs from recent events or projects that WCPCA has worked on, please email them to me with a short description and the names of anyone pictured!

Denise Silfee, Facebook page chair
Thailand, 2011-2013

Peace Corps Speakers Wanted

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), a division of the Extended Studies department of the U of O, is looking to create a once a month series of lectures by returned Peace Corps volunteers.   The program is kicking off in June and they are now looking for speakers to talk about their service f or later in the summer and beyond.

Talks will be on Wednesday afternoons in downtown Eugene at the OLLI classroom building for about 45 minutes to an hour with additional time for questions. We will invite speakers to bring visuals to illustrate their talks.

If you have served in the PC in the last 10 years and would be interested in participating in this program or would like additional information, please contact me at treasurer@westcascadepca.org .

Bart Briefstein
Venezuela, 1966-1968

Oregon Country Fair Volunteers Needed July 11, 12 and 13!

Break out your tied dyed shirts, the Oregon Country Fair is around the corner and once again West Cascades will be represented with a booth in the Community Village. We’ll be sharing Peace Corps tales new and old with folks from far and wide.

Please contact me if you’re interested in signing up. There will also be a schedule emailed out to the membership and another notification in the next newsletter.

Justin Overdevest
Dominican Republic, 2002-2004
Peru, 2004-2006

Grant Awarded to Curso de Verano (summer school program)
for Mexican Children

At its April meeting, the WCPCA board voted to contribute $500 to a summer school program for Mexican children sponsored by the Central Mexico Youth Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by three Mexico RPCVs who live in Eugene and are members of our group.

2013 summer school participants and young teachers

Juliet Bender, Mexico 2009-2012, Charles Goldsmith, Mexico 2009-2012, and Walt Meyer, Mexico 2006-2008, created the organization 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. These young people come from families that cannot afford to pay their school fees or university tuition and most grew up in indigenous communities.

Every summer, the young beneficiaries of El Puente de Esperanza, one of the groups supported by the Central Mexico Youth Fund, share the generosity they have been shown by returning to one of their home communities and offering a summer school program to the children there. The 2013 program lasted 12 days and consisted of educational games, dance, ethics, art, math, and chess. A similar program is planned for this year in a town located in the Sierra Gorda region of Querétaro State. The donation of the WCPCA will help to defray the costs of transportation, materials, and meals.

Juliet and Charles thank the board and members of WCPCA for their gift and will provide follow-up information on the activities of the summer school program at a later date.

WCPCA board

Appreciation from Food for Lane County

Cascade Peace Corps Association is an awesome part of our Chefs' Night Out team! With the time allowed for us in the Hult Center being limited, we couldn't get "out the door" so quickly without your folks who are willing to come late and stay late to help with the break-down process.

A huge special thank you to James Cloutier for organizing the group and the friends who joined in. The event was a huge success and brought in over $75,000 – funds that will be used to help alleviate hunger in our community. We're all deeply grateful for groups like yours who are always there to step up when we need your help.

Most sincerely,

Sheyla Norte
Volunteer Coordinator
Food for Lane County

WCPCA Business Update

The board met on April 27th and minutes of the meeting will soon be available on the business page of the website. We welcomed two new board members, Bart Briefstein who is the new treasurer, and Denise Silfee who will be managing the WCPCA Facebook page and working with Juliet Bender as program co-chair. We regret that Elke Richers is unable to continue as a board member.

Membership chair, Jennifer Knowles,reported that she will need to buy software to be able to install the membership database on the WCPCA’s membership PC. The board approved that. With this update, the database should soon be independent of the consulting firm, NetCorps, that has helped us refine it.

Jennifer also reported that WCPCA has 130 members in the following membership categories: 58 individuals memberships; 35 people in family memberships; 18 active PCVs; 3 students; 15 first year members; and 1 honorary member. Only those who are members in the first two categories pay dues and that number is 93.

The board will continue its traditional fundraising activities of selling tee shirts and international calendars. Gary Cornelius will organize the sale of the 2015 calendars this year. They and the tee shirts will be available to purchase through the website, at West Cascade activities, and occasionally at other sites. The JFK tee shirts are now priced at $15 each. This is an excellent price for shirts of high quality and a compelling design. All proceeds from these sales are used to fund humanitarian projects.

The board awarded $500 to the Central Mexico Youth Fund for its summer program. An article about the project is included in the newsletter.

Treasurer, Bart Briefstein, reported the organization's financial status as of 4/27/14 which the board approved. WCPCA accounts at OCCU have a total balance of $6,134. The treasurer's report will soon be posted on the business page of the website.

In the next few months the board will work on revising portions of the constitution and bylaws to reflect better the organization's current operations. Members are invited to contribute suggestions to any board member. Changes that the board recommends will be published in the newsletter and put to a vote of the membership, most likely in the fall.

The next board meeting will be in late June. All members are welcome to attend the board meetings. Specific dates and meeting sites will be listed on the website's calendar.

WCPCA Member Soon to Depart for Madagascar

WCPCA member, Shannon Micheel, Dominican Republic, 1995-1997, reports that she and her husband, Michael Kresko, Seyclelles, 1994-1995 and Russia, 1995-1997 along with their young son will spend the summer in the Peace Corps again in Madagascar where Shannon will be a Peace Corps Medical Officer. Shannon says that she is feeling like a new PCV once more! We look forward to hearing about their new service experiences.

Best of luck, Shannon, to you and your family!

WCPCA board

Doctoral Dissertation on the Peace Corps

Dear West Cascade Peace Corps Association,

My name is Meghan Kallman, and I am a PhD candidate in the department of sociology at Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island.  I am writing a dissertation about the relationship between organizations and social change work. I am interested in civic participation, the third sector, and development; in other words, what happens when people try to make their worlds better, and what do formal organizations have to do with that process?

I have elected to write my dissertation on the Peace Corps because I am interested in the effects of volunteering on people's lives: how are volunteers' biographies, identities, and politics shaped by participation? How do individual volunteers carry their Peace Corps experience with them throughout their lives and careers? How does this sort of international service experience permanently affect people?

As a part of it, I have created a survey for RPCV's asking about their experiences abroad. I would be extremely grateful if you would distribute it to your listserv, via Facebook or your social media outlets, and to any other RPCVs in your personal or professional networks. The link is here.

You should find the survey intuitive and enjoyable, and it should take about twenty minutes to complete.

This research has been approved by the Brown University Institutional Review (ethics) Board and is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy. Please contact me should you have any questions or concerns. I very much appreciate your consideration.


Meghan Kallman
NSF Graduate Fellow
Graduate Fellow, Cogut Center for the Humanities
PhD Candidate
Department of Sociology
Brown University