Making the Case in Indianapolis
By Jonathan Pearson on Friday, August 27th, 2010
More than 100 members of the Peace Corps community have signed up for NPCA’s Advocacy Network over the past two weeks during our August road trip.
That includes 14 new advocates from Indianapolis, some of whom are featured in the photo above. As members of the Central Indiana Peace Corps Association (CIPA) came together for a late summer potluck, it was clear that they – like many others – possess a powerful argument in making the case for a bigger, better and bolder Peace Corps: the extensive contributions RPCVs continue to make well after their Peace Corps service.
Consider just some of the professional and volunteer contributions made on a regular basis by members of this group. When she isn’t helping coordinate group activities, CIPA President Debbie Pidgeon (Namibia 00-02) is the Director of Programs for the Indiana Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives. Her work in this leadership position includes overseeing Americorps programs across Indiana.
Nicky Mendenhall (Turkmenistan 02-04) has been working with other group members in the development of CIPA t-shirts, which went on sale for the first time Thursday evening. With an initial run of about fifty shirts, the group hopes to use proceeds from the sales in the 50th anniversary year to support a Peace
Corps Partnership Project.
Group members also made donations in the memory of Michael Cupp (Ethiopia 68-70), who served in Peace Corps with his wife Pat. Both served as teachers in the Indianapolis school system for nearly 40 years. Michael – who worked at North Central High School and helped launch an alternative education program called “Learning Unlimited” (which featured many service opportunities for his students), passed away last December. A scholarship in his memory is in the process of being established.
The host of the potluck, Ben Eddy (Kyrgyzstan 02-04), works for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. During the gathering, he shared an amazing project he assisted with following Peace Corps, while teaching at a Montessori school in At-bashi. Concerned about the marginalization of the Kyrgyz language, Ben and other teachers collected regional folk tales which were produced in a colorful book (though the generosity of the Soros Foundation) and written in Kyrgyz, Tajik, Russian and English.
We could go on! An RPCV booth at the annual Indianapolis International Festival. The tireless efforts of local RPCV Richard Sitler to chronicle the current work of Peace Corps volunteers through a photo essay called Making Peace with the World. And of course, plans for 50th anniversary activities, including a major event on or near Peace Corps week, which was outlined to nearly 30 attendees by group member Colleen Turner.
“We had a whole new variety of faces. It’s the most we’ve had in the last few meetings,” said Debbie Pidgeon. As the 50th approaches, the possibilities for a resurgence of activity rises.
And as NPCA learns about those activities, we share them during our meetings on Capitol Hill to demonstrate the ongoing contributions by the dedicated members of this community. Keep up the fantastic effort. And keep sharing your successes with your public officials.