Why I Give to NPCA: Harriet Lipowitz
By Guest Contributor on Thursday, December 19th, 2013
“If it’s Thursday, Harriet must be at NPCA.”
Harriet Lipowitz is a regular volunteer at the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) and, yes, if it’s Thursday, you will find Harriet at the NPCA office. Harriet generously contributes her time to NPCA, particularly with the mentoring program and advocacy.
Natalie Hall recently chatted with Harriet to learn more about her and why she volunteers at NPCA.
Natalie: Harriet, you volunteer so frequently at NPCA. What motivates you?
Harriet: It’s so rewarding. There are so many different and interesting projects to do. I have learned some new computer skills and am quite comfortable now. I like the staff in the office and it’s a good atmosphere. The staff is creative, inspiring and easy-going. The interns are awesome, too.
Natalie: How did you get started at NPCA?
Harriet: In 2010, I came into the NPCA office to pay my dues and met Jonathan Pearson. I asked Jonathan if he needed help. Of course, he said, “Yes.” So I started with advocacy and the many 50th anniversary activities.
Natalie: What do you do in the office now?
Harriet: Now I am working with the mentoring program. Anne Baker asked me to handle the matching of the mentees with the mentors. I make matches and also work with 22 mentoring coordinators volunteering with member groups (both “Friends of …” and geographic groups) around the country. They are very helpful in finding mentors. This is an important service that NPCA offers for RPCVs, particularly those just transitioning from Peace Corps service.
Natalie: Yes, I heard Anne say that the mentoring program couldn’t work without your help. What are you doing in advocacy?
Harriet: It’s rewarding to help Jonathan. There is so much to be done for Day of Action, which is coming up next on February 27. I went to Capitol Hill in 2012 and will go whenever possible.
Natalie: How did you decide to volunteer once a week?
Harriet: Actually, my volunteer time has varied. I started coming in a couple of times each week, but in the lead-in to the 50th anniversary, I volunteered almost every day. After the 50th, there were times I came in twice a week and now it’s every Thursday. Whatever the time commitment, it’s important to me to volunteer. The people at NPCA are wonderful to work with. I have loved the Peace Corps since I served – especially the anniversaries and the Founders Day dinners over the years. Volunteering keeps that spirit alive. I feel NPCA needs members’ money and time to fulfill its mission. I’m glad to help.
Natalie: You have had a long-term connection to the Peace Corps. Where did you serve in the Peace Corps?
Harriet: I was in Malaysia group 24 from 1969 to 1971. I was in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, Malaysia. It is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. It was a remote place for those on mainland Malaysia, but I loved it – the people, the food. It was a beautiful country.
Natalie: What was your job?
Harriet: I was a New Primary Syllabus Advisor for primary schools. I revised the Handbook for Primary School Teachers, did teacher training and traveled a lot with follow-up visits to the First Division schools in Sarawak. I also taught a hands-on art class in Kuching for teachers using natural materials in their classes. The Peace Corps left Malaysia in 1983, but at the 50th anniversary event at the Malaysian Embassy, the Ambassador announced that American teachers were going to teach English in Malaysia again. I understand that Fulbright scholars will be teaching English, too.
Natalie: Did your Peace Corps experience lead to a job or career when you returned to the United States?
Harriet: Yes, I spent 27 years at the University of Maryland teaching ESL. The University sent me back in 1986 and 1987 to evaluate a bridge program for Malay students who wanted to study English and then come to an American university to study engineering or business.
Natalie: We’re so glad you decided to volunteer at NPCA. Regular volunteers are special people indeed. Thank you, Harriet. See you on Thursdays!
Be like Harriet! The NPCA has numerous volunteer opportunities for others who can volunteer on a regular basis, whether it’s one day a week (or more or less) or up to full time on a short term basis. We are flexible and will work with your schedule. Interested? Contact Anne Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to NPCA volunteer Natalie Hall for interviewing our donors and her other service to NPCA.