RPCV/W 50th: Volunteers Make It Happen!
By Guest Contributor on Thursday, October 20th, 2011
[We asked Kristina Owens, RPCV/W Peace Corps 50th Anniversary Liaison to provide some background on how the 50th Anniversary events at Arlington came together.]
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, DC (RPCV/W) had such a wonderful year honoring 50 years of the Peace Corps! A little about us: RPCV/W is a nonprofit 501c3 with nearly 700 members and representing more than 2,500 returned Peace Corps volunteers, Peace Corps staff, and Peace Corps families and supporters in the greater Washington D.C. area. Governed by an elected volunteer Board of Directors, RPCV/W serves the RPCV community by providing networking, career development and community service opportunities, and we partner with local non-profits to help raise money or provide volunteers through our Partnership for Peace initiative.
In March 2010, the National Peace Corps Association approached our group and asked us if we could organize an Arlington Presentation and a Walk Flags. We were so honored by the confidence NPCA had in us to do these keystone events!
Under the leadership of RPCV/W President Tamar (Schiffman) Lechter, we forged ahead. These events we knew would be a major task but an important accomplishment for RPCV/W.
Walk of Flags
It has become a tradition that at every anniversary there is a walk/march of RPCVs carrying all of the flags of the countries where Peace Corps Volunteers have served. The 50th was no exception. In our background work, we saw beautiful pictures of RPCVs marching across Memorial Bridge with the flags in hand. We knew planning this meant more than simply passing out flags.
Since the 25th Anniversary there have been a ceremonies honoring the Fallen Peace Corps Volunteers at the Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. We knew we wanted to do this but for the 50th Anniversary we not only wanted to honor those who lost their lives in service to the Peace Corps ideals, but also honor what 50 years means to the Peace Corps. We wanted to honor how Peace Corps has affected us personally, our local and global communities; how Peace Corps has impacted our host countries and finally we wanted to remember President John F. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver.
We knew we could not do this alone! We began by talking to those who had planned these events before us. We wanted the 50th Anniversary to be inspired by the past but look forward to the future. So to start, we talked to as many RPCVs as possible and are so grateful for their ideas and insights.
August 3, 2010
We launched our efforts and we formed the RPCV/W 50th Committees: Communication, Development; Arlington presentation; Parade (Walk of Flags committee) and the Social & Outreach Committee. Quickly each of these committees filled up with RPCVs of all generations, years served and countries served! The amount of work each of the committees did was amazing: the Development Committee raised more than the $25,000 we budgeted for our event; the parade committee successfully implemented a logistically challenging event with over 5000 attendees; the Arlington committee orchestrated a fabulous presentation with inspiring speakers and great musicians; and our Development and Communication committees coordinated day of volunteers; the photographers and the press.
September 25, 2011
September 25, 2011 proceeded very smoothly thanks to the work of over 100 local volunteers; the committees anticipated every possible dilemma and were prepared. We were all so inspired by the wonderful Arlington audience and all of the RPCVs who walked with the 139 flags.
As the RPCV/W Event Manager, I could not have been happier to see all our hard work succeed. I could not have done this by myself or with just the RPCV/W board. I want to specifically thank Tamar (RPCV/W President 2009-2011) for encouraging me to take on this massive project and working with me until the very day before she had her baby!; the RPCV/W Board for supporting me throughout the planning process; the Chairs of the Committees who brought so much enthusiasm and optimism, and of course every volunteer who contributed a little or lot of their time; and finally to our RPCV/W’s current president Chris Austin, who so seamlessly became my partner in this effort and led us to a successful day.
RPCV/W is so honored to be part of this celebration and we look forward to the next 50 years of the Peace Corps!
Download the RPCVW 50th Anniversary Event Program
Browse and purchase photos from Sunday’s events.