Advocacy from New Mexico to DC
By Guest Contributor on Thursday, August 18th, 2011
(This post was provided by RPCVs Mick and Amy O’Neill, who are participating in NPCA’s August District Advocacy Days initiative, and coming to Washington September 21st and 22nd to participate in our 50th anniversary Capitol Hill Advocacy Day)
Amy (Niger, 79-81) and Mick (Ghana, 71-72; Burkina Faso, 72-74) O’Neill will host RPVCs from northwest New Mexico for a meeting with Congressman Ben Ray Lujan on Tuesday, August 23 in their home in Farmington, NM. The meeting, as part of the 50th Anniversary Advocacy Day for Peace Corps, will present a chance for area RPCVs to discuss with the Congressman various aspects of Peace Corps including support, value of PC as a foreign service instrument, congressional involvement, PC educational opportunities, etc.
The upcoming Advocacy Day is an opportunity event for constituents to meet with their congressional delegates on a nearly one-to-one basis. In addition to the Farmington meeting with Congressman Lujan, New Mexico RPCVs will gather in Washington, DC during September to meet with the rest of the five-member NM congressional delegation. Issues to be discussed will include a commemorative work in Washington, the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Acts, and continued strong support for Peace Corps. Dollar for dollar, PC is a good deal, politically, culturally and financially.
It is important to take this opportunity to visit with our congressional delegates in order for them to appreciate the value that RPCVs believe their experience in foreign service was to themselves, their host countries, and most importantly, to the men, women, and children they worked and played with on a daily basis. Congressional delegates need to appreciate that the development work carried out by RPCVs has true impact on the lives of people throughout the world, and this impact generates a wealth of good will toward the United States. This is especially important now as the US is not highly regarded by many nations. This understanding and good will comes at an incredibly cheap price. The full Peace Corps budget for the entire 50 years since its inception amounts to only a few days of current military expenditures.
The O’Neill’s have two sons, Casey and Kyle, who grew up in Embu, Kenya while Mick worked with the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI) through the University of Missouri and then through the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). The family came to Farmington in 1999 where Mick is an agricultural research scientist with New Mexico State Universityand Amy is the program director for the Court Appointed Special Advocate program in San Juan County. Casey graduated from NMSU in 2010 with a BS in Geography and is currently a legislative correspondent for Senator Bingaman. Kyle is in his senior year at NMSU, also working on a BS degree in geography. He is presently in the process of filling out his application for Peace Corps.