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

December 2014

Coming Events

  • December 5: Friday evening, join us for a festive holiday potluck, 6-9 pm, at the home of Nancy and Tom English, 2530 Fairmount Blvd., Eugene.

    Festivities will include an exchange of gifts that have relevance to PC service/survival in your country of service. For details see the article below. Driving and parking information are on the calendar page of the website.

  • January 8: Thursday evening, the book group will meet to discuss Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway, 6:30 - 8:30 pm, at the home of Gary Cornelius. All are welcome.

  • January 11: Sunday evening, the WCPCA board will meet, 6 - 8 pm, at the New Day Bakery, 449 Blair Blvd., Eugene. All members are welcome.

  • January 26: Monday evening, join the WCPCA crew, 6-9pm, at the Food for Lane County warehouse to package donated food in family sized containers, 770 Bailey Hill Road, Eugene. See the article below for details.

    Follow these and other activities on our Facebook page,
    RPCV Eugene: West Cascade Peace Corps Association.

    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

Farewell and Welcome: 2014 and 2015 Boards

It’s hard to believe that the year is nearly over.  I want to take this time to thank the board members who are stepping down.  Their volunteering has allowed for the organization to continue.  Thank you to Bart Briefstein, Jennifer Knowles, Howard Schuman, and Dorothy Soper for your dedication.

I am excited for the 2015 Board.  Patty McAfee and Wayne Thompson will join current board members (Denise Silfee, Juliet Bender, James Cloutier, Gary Cornelius, Laurette Garner and myself).  We are still looking for at-large board members and a membership chair.  If interested please contact me.

I look forward to a year of potlucks, speakers, picnics, and special events.  I hope to see you all around.

Thank you,

Julia Harvey (Tonga, 1990-1993) WCPCA President

Slate of candidates for the 2015 Board of Directors

This slate of candidates for the 2015 Board of Directors has been approved by the current board. The election of 2015 board members will take place at the potluck on Friday, December 5th. All WCPCA members attending the potluck may vote. The term of office for the 2015 board will be January through December, 2015. The first meeting of the 2015 board will be on January 8. See the newsletter calendar for details.


President: Julia Harvey (Tonga, 1990-1993) Julia is a longtime WCPCA member and served the board as president in 2014. She is a science teacher at South Eugene High School.

Vice President: Juliet Bender (Mexico, 2009-2012) Juliet has belonged to WCPCA since moving to Eugene with her husband after they completed their Peace Corps service. She has served on the board for two years during which time she was program co-chair.

Treasurer: Patty MacAfee (Cameroon, 1989-1991) Patty is a longtime WCPCA member and has had many responsibilities including that of board president. Most recently she served as program co-chair with Juliet in 2013 and has organized the WCPCA team volunteering each month at Food for Lane County and the WCPCA book group.

Secretary: Gary Cornelius (South Africa, 2012-2013) Gary has been active in WCPCA since returning from his Peace Corps service and served in 2014 as board secretary. Gary organized the showing of “Posh Corps” in Eugene in November and recently published his Peace Corps memoir, Dancing with Gogos.

At-large members:

James Cloutier (Kenya, 1964-1966) James is a longtime WCPCA member and board member. He has created the WCPCA artwork and tee shirt designs and organizes the WCPCA volunteer clean up crews at the annual Food for Lane County fundraisers as well as the WCPCA entry in the Eugene Celebration parade.

Denise Silfee (Thailand, 2011-2013) Denise joined WCPCA when she and her husband moved to Eugene after completing their Peace Corps service. She served on the board in 2014 and has organized a new FaceBook page for WCPCA. Denise works for a local non-profit agency.

Wayne Thompson (Peru, 1964-1966) Wayne is a longtime WCPCA member and has served on the board for many years. He’s had many responsibilities, including recently serving as co-chair with Maggie Keenan for the Eugene celebration of the Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary in 2011.

Ex officio:

Laurette Garner (Madagascar, 2004-2006) Laurette is the Peace Corps representative at the University of Oregon. She is in her second year in this position and also as a board member.

December Potluck with Gift Exchange and other Fun Activities

Gift Exchange at December Potluck
Friday, December 5th at 6 pm
At the home of Tom and Nancy English

We look forward to seeing you at the next WCPCA event. Please join us for an evening of fun and sharing. This year we will have a gift exchange as part of the evening's merriment. Each person should bring a wrapped gift (of no more than $10 in value) which relates to the theme of "Peace Corps Survival"-- something you needed to survive in your PC country or in PC in general.  Humorous gifts are welcome and "stealing" opened gifts will be encouraged.

We are looking for help in collecting holiday trivia from around the world to create a game. Please take a minute to send us a couple of holiday trivia questions from the country where you served. Send your questions to Jenn at info@westcascadepca.org.

As usual, please bring a dish to share with your fellow RPVCs.

Juliet Bender (Mexico, 2009-2012) and
Denise Silfee (Thailand, 2011-2013), Program cochairs
Jenn Knowles (Macedonia (2009-2011), WCPCA Membership Chair

Sale of International Calendars

WCPCA is continuing the sale of international calendars designed and published by the RPCV group of Madison WI. This activity has long been an important WCPCA fundraiser, contributing approximately $500 annually to the funding of humanitarian projects.

Young herder in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia

With photos from current and former Peace Corps host countries and day by day listings of holidays from countries and cultures throughout the world, the calendar is a work of art and a resource that celebrates ties of friendship created by Peace Corps service.

The calendar is a valuable reference in every home and will make an excellent gift to your internationally minded family members and friends. The price of an individual calendar is $12. Five or more calendars purchased together brings the price to $10 per calendar.

I'll have calendars to sell at the January 5th potluck. You can also buy them directly at Dorothy Soper's home or order them on the shop page of the website and have one or more mailed to you. The mailing price is $3 per calendar. To arrange to buy a calendar directly or for other inquiries please send an email to info@westcascadepca.org and write "Calendar" in the subject line. I'll respond to your inquiries.

Gary Cornelius, Board secretary
(South Africa, 2012-2013)

Volunteering for Food for Lane County

We have saved a place at the table for you . . . at Food for Lane County on Monday, January 26, 2015 (6-9PM). A WCPCA crew packages donated food into family sized containers on the fourth Monday of most months.

WCPCA crew at Food for Lane County

Please join us in giving back to the community.

Patty MacAfee, FLC volunteer chair
Cameroon, 1989-1991

'Posh Corps' Screening Successful

The November 20th screening of the documentary film 'Posh Corps,' hosted by WCPCA, was a success.  About 30 people attended the screening at Fenton Hall at the UO Campus. Several in the audience were attending a WCPCA event for the first time. Through donations and purchases of DVDs of the documentary, we covered our expenses and cleared about $100 that can now go toward funding PCP projects.

Attendees at the showing of 'Posh Corps'

The film, made by RPCV Alan Toth of Oakland, CA, was very positively received by the audience. The film followed and told the stories of six South African volunteers who shared their experiences, frustrations, joys, accomplishments, and non-successes. It was poignant and thoughtfully done. Toth, who is on the board of the Northern California Peace Corps Association, served in South Africa at approximately the same time as WCPCA board member Gary Cornelius.

Toth came to Eugene for this first showing of the film outside of California and was accompanied by his wife, Lilly, who also is an RPCV, and served with Gary in SA25. Alan spoke after the screening, offering insights into the filming process and answering questions. He hopes to have the film accepted by the film festivals he has entered.

Gary Cornelius, Board secretary
(South Africa, 2012-2013)

Board Donates to a PCP Project in Nicaragua

At its meeting in November the board voted to contribute $100 to Local Ultrasound Machine, a PCP project based at a maternity clinic in rural Nicaragua. The project includes extensive training for staff and volunteers who work at the clinic. The project director, Ilana Hipshman, is a PCV from Oregon.

Project director from Oregon

Upon hearing of the award, Ilana sent a thank you email that included this message, "What exciting news! I am thrilled and so thankful. Please extend my gratitude to the board."

The project has received about $2,000 in donations and needs another $4,300 to reach full funding. Anyone may contribute by going to the Peace Corps website , scrolling to the bottom of the page, and clicking on "Volunteer Projects" under "Donate." Please consider supporting this worthy project.

Dorothy Soper (Ghana, 1963-1965)
Board member

News from Madagascar Project

In September the board donated $200 to the Peace Corps Partnership project, Ecotourism in Rural Eastern Madagascar, whose director is, Chris Shisler, a PCV from Oregon. A full description of the project is on the “Projects” page of the WCPCA website. Gary Cornelius has stayed in touch with Chris who recently send the following email:

"Just wanted to say thanks again for donating and for your help. We got fully funded a little while ago and have initiated orders and construction on the project! I've been waiting for an official report from Peace Corps about who donated what, but after two weeks of waiting still no word. So, thank you all again, and you can stay updated with project at ecomada.blogspot.com."

Cheers (and go Ducks!)
Madagascar project

Local PCV Reassigned to Malawi

Local PCV Kathleen Conery was evacuated from her initial PC assignment in Guinea due to the Ebola outbreak. She’s given at least two local presentations about her work in Guinea and how her community responded to the onset of Ebola. We thank her for bringing the news home to us.

Kathleen in Guinea

Kathleen has been reassigned to a teaching position in Malawi which will begin next fall. We wish Kathleen a successful and disease free two years!

Read a PCV memoir in January

On Thursday, January 8, the book group will meet to discuss Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway, 6:30 - 8:30 pm, at the home of Gary Cornelius. Gary’s address is in the Membership Directory. All are welcome.

WCPCA Business Update

The board held its final meeting of the year on November 23rd, concluding the year's business and making plans for the beginning of 2015.

1. 2015 board: The board accepted Wayne Thompson’s report as the nominating committee for a 2015 board. Six of the ten members of the current board will continue on next year’s board. Two members who will join the slate of candidates for next year are Patty MacAfee and Wayne Thompson. The board would like to identify more at-large members, including a membership chair, all of whom can be appointed by the president with the board’s approval.

2. Project funded: The board voted to donate $100 to Local Ultrasound Machine, a Peace Corps Partnership project at a maternity clinic in rural Nicaragua. More information about the project is in another article in the newsletter and on the “Projects” page of the website.

In 2014 the board made grants to five humanitarian projects for a total of $2,435. This is over the $2,000 originally budgeted for 2014 but all of the money comes from funds that are restricted to use for this purpose. They are deposited in an a separate account and the balance in that account is given on financial statements separately from that in the other two accounts (checking and savings).

3. Membership: Membership chair, Jenn Knowles, reported that the WCPCA membership is approximately 130 of whom approximately 90 pay dues. We hope that all members whose dues are due by the end of the year will renew. We need the income from these 90-100 memberships to cover operational expenses. Board members agreed to email some members who need to renew to encourage them to do so.

Jenn reported that the new format for the membership database that she has used this year is working well. The organization owns a PC which is dedicated to using the membership database.

4. Membership forms on the website: When renewing your membership, joining WCPCA, or updating your membership information on the website, you’ll now see two forms on a single screen. The two forms will better accommodate couples who have different phone numbers, email addresses, or last names. Those with an individual membership use one form; couples use both forms.

Each WCPCA member is now entered separately in the membership database and will be listed separately in the Membership Directory. The board hopes that these changes will streamline use of the membership page of the website and also the preparation of the Membership Directory. If you have any questions, please let Jenn or Julia know.

5. Treasurer’s report: Bart Briefstein, reports that as of 11/13/14 balances in the organization’s accounts at OCCU are: checking, $1,776; savings, $2,760, and restricted (to funding projects), $63.07. As of the end of September the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund, managed by the Oregon Community Foundation, was valued at $31,277. The annual distributions of this endowed fund, approximately $1,300, are deposited in the restricted account and may be used only to fund humanitarian projects or programs.

6. Donations: The board gratefully acknowledges donations that the organization has received this year. Michael Mooser donated $200 to the principal of the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund. Gary Cornelius has pledged to donate $3 of the sales price for very copy of his memoir that is sold. To date Gary has donated $161. All of Gary's donations will be deposited in the restricted account and used to fund humanitarian projects.

Thanks for your support

I never intended to be a co-editor of the newsletter but I lost out to fate and have been favored to have this job and work with Deb Jones for two and a half years. I appreciate all of Deb’s support and the patience of my husband, Dave Soper, who taught HTML to Deb and me.

I thank the readers who have supported the newsletter with their attention and suggestions. I’ll miss this form of communicating with you but I’m looking forward to staying in touch through WCPCA activities.

Starting in 2015 communications will be even more in the very competent hands of Denise Silfee, who will replace me, and Deb Jones who remains at the helm of our website. Please support them at least by reading (speed reading is okay) the missives that they may send you.

Dorothy Soper
Ghana, 1963-1965
Newsletter co-editor

Priscilla Dantas’ Piano Recital

Priscilla Dantas, our guest at the October potluck, is a talented student of music at the U of O. Her education for many years has been largely support by SKISKI, a non-profit agency organized by WCPCA member, Bob Crites (Brazil, 1964-1966). Those of us at the October potluck enjoyed learning about Priscilla's childhood and education in Brazil and an all too brief piano concert.

Priscilla is inviting us to her Junior Recital. Please read her note below:

I’m inviting the Peace Corps group to attend my recital which I will perform at the School of Music in December.

Here is the date: December 6th, 5 pm, Room 190 at the Frohnmayer Building, U of O campus  961 E 18th Ave, Eugene, OR 97403  (541) 346-5678

This is will be my Junior Recital, and it will be my first solo performance at the School of Music.

We wish Priscilla well. I hope that some of us will be able to attend her concert.

Dorothy Soper
Ghana, 1963-1965

National Peace Corps Association’s 2015 Gathering

The National Peace Corps Association’s annual Peace Corps Connect is an important continuation of the Peace Corps spirit and an opportunity for the community to reconnect with Peace Corps friends, meet new Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and network with various organizations face-to-face.

NPCA’s cohosts will be the Northern California Peace Corps Association. Stay tuned for details!  #PCCNorCal. See you next year in the San Francisco Bay Area! First week in June.

More information is available on the NPCA website.