Keeping Busy in Boise
By Jonathan Pearson on Monday, April 29th, 2013
Our cross-country trip to catch up with the Peace Corps community has been anything but a straight line from west to east. With some backtracking and detours, we’ve logged more than 4,000 miles to meet up with as many people as possible.
One such detour came back on April 21st. We travelled down from Montana to Boise to attend the potluck and Annual General Meeting of the Idaho Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (IRPCV).
The detour was well worth the visit. Coming off hosting a highly successful regional meeting of Pacific Northwest RPCVs in March, more than 35 came out for the gathering, ready for continued engagement. Before the group was an ambitious agenda that included committee reports, updates on more than a half-dozen past and upcoming events, election of new officers and an activities planning session for late 2013 and early 2014.
A number of positive developments occurred during the course of the evening. After more than a year, the group announced it obtained its non-profit 501 (c) 3 status. Several individuals volunteered to assist with a review and revamp of the group’s website. Boise will be the location of a reunion gathering of the Friends of Thailand in October. And, the group voted to divide $1,000 in charitable donations (more than had originally been planned) between projects supporting a local Boys and Girls Club, a day shelter for the homeless, and Semilla Nueva, a non-profit organization helping Guatemalan farmers experiment with life changing technologies to improve conditions for local families and communities.
There’s no doubt that IRPCV – like all member groups – face challenges in their quest to bring the world home and continue the ethic of serving others. And, like many groups, IRPCV develops their own organizational strategies and models to sustain and advance their work.
Here are a few of the approaches we picked up from the IRPCV Annual General Meeting that might be useful to other National Peace Corps Association groups:
Keep Group Goals Front and Center: IRPCV developed a set of seven goals that it regularly highlights on its website, on meeting agendas and elsewhere. This serves as a regular reminder to all of the important activities in which the group is engaged, and provides a focus in group organization and planning.
RPCV Friends Can Be Group Leaders: As is the case with some other groups, IRPCV looks beyond returned volunteers to serve in its leadership. Group Treasurer Trish McKernan is the spouse of Secretary (and Thailand RPCV) Kathryn Lloyd. ”I never served, but I’m pro-Peace Corps,” said McKernan. ”So I jumped in and helped out. It’s a good feeling.”
Shadow Period for New Officers: As it seeks new officers for the group, IRPCV institutes a 4 – 6 month transition period between election and assuming office. This allows the incoming officers to shadow their predecessors and better prepare to assume their leadership role.
Food After Business! While the pleasure of Peace Corps company is always a draw, the group works to address the business end of its activity agenda before delving too deeply into the social aspects of the evening. This helps to build further understanding and involvement in the work of the IRPCV.
We are into the last week of our cross-country trip to connect with the Peace Corps community. We’re about to turn east with stops in Tennessee, southeastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia. Follow this link for the details.