Chicago in the House!…Make that the Senate
By Jonathan Pearson on Friday, August 20th, 2010
While the House of Representatives and Senate are in their summer recess, now is a good time for district office meetings with your representatives in Congress.
Friday in Chicago, six members of the Peace Corps community met with district office staff of Senator Richard Durbin to urge support for President Obama’s $446 million Peace Corps request.
“Dollar for dollar, I don’t think there’s a Washington program that gets more for its money than Peace Corps,” said Don Smith (Philippines 61-63), who following Peace Corps continued his public service with the city of Chicago for 34 years, including ten years as the City Commissioner on Aging.
The group emphasized the often forgotten dividend of an ongoing commitment to serve others following two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV.) Toya Simmons (Ecuador 94-96) noted in the meeting that she “caught the service bug” during Peace Corps. Her contributions since include founding the organization Enterprising Kids, which is designed to provide financial literacy and entrepreneurship programs for students in grades K – 12.
For Rob Marshall, his Peace Corps experience helped prepare him for his work as a private consultant. While he confronts many unexpected situations in his work, Rob says they all pale in comparison to when he first walked into an unfamiliar village in Ghana, where he served from 2002-04.
The growing number of people interested in serving in the Peace Corps was highlighted by Donna Braden (Ukraine 99 – 01), who shared an experience from the night before. As she has in the past, Donna attended a recruitment program at the Chicago Peace Corps office to serve as a resource. However, last night Donna left early because there was an overflow crowd, and she wanted to make her space available for one of the potential applicants.
“We all represented a lot of different perspectives,” observed former Peace Corps and National Peace Corps Association intern Rachel Shattuck, who traveled from West Dundee with her partner Josie Vodden to add their voices to urge support for the President’s Peace Corps request.
Those varied and growing number of perspectives are part of the grassroots effort to urge Senators to eventually accede to the House and agree to support the President’s Peace Corps funding request. Follow this link for more information. Then, follow the lead of Chicago in scheduling a meeting with the district office of your members of Congress.