RPCVs, Friends, and Family Honor Fallen Peace Corps Volunteer Emily Balog
By Sarah Kana on Friday, August 10th, 2012
At the time of her death, 26 year old, Emily Balog had spent 18 months serving in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and had dedicated a lot of time prior to that volunteering to assist others. Although the Balogs were overwhelmed with grief after their only daughter’s death, Susan Balog found a way in the eulogy she gave at Emily’s funeral in early December to tell people what they could do to help.
“Fix a meal and share it. Make a commitment and keep it. Find your faith community. Look beyond yourself,” said Emily’s mother.
Those words inspired friends and family of Emily’s to act. Five of Emily’s friends, Elaine Orcutt of Winston-Salem, Julie Wilder of Abu Dhabi, Andrea Siegel of Philadelphia, Katie Cozort of Chicago and Tim Lehan of Raleigh, were the organizers of the event, “Emily’s Day of Service”. and worked closely with the Balogs, fed all the participants throughout the weekend, to make it all happen.
Emily’s Day of Service began on Friday, August 3, with a blood drive at First Reformed United Church of Christ. On Saturday, more than 100 volunteers from as far away as Abu Dhabi will spent the day completing projects at seven different nonprofit organizations in Alamance County. On Sunday, many participated in a service at First Reformed United Church of Christ and will sing in the choir.
“We had a great turn out on Saturday with over 100 volunteers participating Alamance County at 10 different volunteer sites. There were also people throughout the country who volunteered or gave blood this weekend in Emily’s honor,” said Elaine Orcutt, a close friend of Emily’s and one of the organizers of Emily’s Day, “Over $1700 was raised for the Allied Churches of Alamance County and the Peace Corps. On Friday, there was a blood drive at the church and 45 units of blood were donated. There were several local media members who came to the service day so it was exciting to see how many people were reached by this.”
“I think the eulogy was inspired from a place of great grief, I was inspired to reach out to the people to say something meaningful in a dreadful time. Those were the things that I felt they could do for us and do for Emily in the continuation of her desire to serve others. This is the continuation of the celebration of her life,” said Emily’s mother, Susan Balog.
“We were so fortunate to have members of the Peace Corps come from DC to volunteer with us, including Donald Clark. It meant so much to our group and to Emily’s family to have them there,” said Orcutt. “This event truly was amazing for all of us and a wonderful way to do something positive with our grief. I know Emily would have loved it and been right there volunteering along with us. Also, we had a t-shirt made for the service day that used designs Emily created for a project in Paraguay which made it even more meaningful to all of us.”