The Next New Group
By Jonathan Pearson on Monday, March 14th, 2011
Elizabeth Sharp served as a teacher trainer in present-day Nicaragua. John Ward helped develop egg cooperatives during Peace Corps’ early days in India. Hank Walker worked as a city planner while volunteering in Iran. And Thomas Whitaker just returned from service as a small business advisor in Senegal.
Along with their Peace Corps service, these four individuals share the bond of being among the 600 volunteers who answered the call to service from the state of West Virginia. At a March 12th 50th anniversary celebratory gathering, leaders of an emerging new member group are determined to increase those numbers.
Nearly 50 people attended the gathering at the Charleston Civic Center, including representatives of Senator Jay Rockefeller and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Charleston Mayor Danny Jones offered his congratulations.
Also on hand was Morgantown Mayor and RPCV Bill Byrne (Brazil 67-70) who believes that the resourcefulness of West Virginians – many of whom live in rural regions with fewer modern-day amenities – make them strong candidates to be successful Peace Corps volunteers. Nicaragua RPCV Sharp extended on that observation, noting that through modern technology, it seems we sometimes lose the connection to the people that are right in front of us. Sharp says because of Peace Corps, ”I have a greater appreciation of the company of others.”
Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary has sparked interest in the formation of a new member group. Paperwork for the West Virginia RPCVs has been submitted to the National Peace Corps Association, and formal approval of the new group is anticipated shortly. ”It was great to see the number of people attending the event, their energy and enthusiasm in promoting the Peace Corps in West Virginia”, said group leader Julie Tritz (Morocco 99-01) of
Tritz says a core group of ten individuals have emerged from two organizing conference calls. The initial goals of the group will be to promote the Peace Corps at West Virginia universities and colleges, take Peace Corps messages and experiences to youth, and share experiences within the group. ”It will be great to look back in a year or two and see the numbers (of Peace Corps volunteers) increased.”
The group has formed a Facebook page. To get connected, look for West Virginia RPCVs