September Featured Advocate – Brian Woods
By Sam Foote on Thursday, September 5th, 2013
Those who know a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) also know their humanitarian service continues long after their stints abroad come to an end. That can come in the form of advocacy, which is one way our September featured advocate remains engaged.
Brian Woods of Hazlehurst, Mississippi served as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Ukraine from 2007-2009, and as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in the Republic of Georgia in 2012. He is another in a long line of RPCVs whose dedication to the Peace Corps’ goals of world peace and friendship is evident in his efforts upon returning home.
After participating in the National Peace Corps Association’s (NPCA) Washington D.C. advocacy day that was part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Peace Corps, Woods has continued taking an active role in promoting and advocating for Peace Corps related legislative issues. Last month, he met with various legislators, including Representative Bennie Thompson, Senator Roger Wicker, and staff members of Senator Thad Cochran to discuss issues such as increasing Peace Corps funding and (in the Senate) co-sponsoring the Peace Corps Equity Act of 2013 (S. 813).
Peace Corps Parents Can Be Advocates Too!
During his meeting with Congressman Thompson, Woods was joined by Cyndi Scott, who recently visited her daughter Virginia, a current PCV serving in Ukraine. “She’s added a lot…because her priorities as the mom of a PCV are completely different from mine as an RPCV. I can talk about our impact in Ukraine, but I cannot talk about how important volunteer safety is from the perspective of a PCV parent.”
Why does Woods feel obligated to lobby his Congressmen? “If I’m not willing to take time out to talk about Peace Corps with the people I send to Washington, why should it be important to them?…I want them to feel that Peace Corps is important for them because it’s important to me as their constituent.”
Coming Soon: An RPCV Group in Mississippi
In addition to meeting with his representatives in Congress, Woods has begun to pursue the formation of a RPCV group in Mississippi. After experiencing first hand the great community work of the Athens (OH) RPCVs group while living in southeast Ohio, Woods sees a similar opportunity in his home state. By forming a Mississippi RPCV group, Woods believes RPCVs will be more effective and better organized in communicating their interests to Congress. During a recruiting event in Jackson, Mississippi Woods’ interest in establishing such a group was spiked after hearing a potential PCV mention how she wished she had somewhere to turn with her questions about the application process. “If we’re able to start a group, we’ll be a front-line resource for Mississippi-based applicants.”
The NPCA thanks and applauds Brian for his outstanding efforts to continue bringing the world home on several fronts, including his energetic participation in the August District Meetings. We look forward to working with a Mississippi RPCV group in the future. Keep up the great work Brian!