Loret Miller Ruppe Award Winners
New York City Peace Corps Association (NYCPCA)
Since 2013, NYCPCA has worked tirelessly to connect the local New York City community to a global one through their annual art show, Peace Corps Creates...Art by Returned Volunteers, in which Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are given the opportunity to share their unique and personal experience living outside their country and culture in art form. The event exposes the displayed artwork to hundreds of people, and connects those bypassers to the vibrancy and diversity of the Peace Corps experience. NYCPCA showcases the power of partnering with local organizations to make a big difference in the awareness and visibility of the Peace Corps community, through a model that other NPCA affiliate groups can easily replicate.
Peace Corps Iran Association (PCIA)
Over the last few years, PCIA consolidated their political and cultural outreach under a program entitled “Impact” in an effort to streamline their objective of improving understanding between Americans and Iranians. PCIA’s efforts to create these cross-cultural bridges have expanded and become increasingly integrated throughout the years. Today, these efforts include biennial conferences which are well-attended nationwide, three free newsletters that are distributed to over 845 members and subscribers, and a social media presence that draws in thousands of posts, comments, and reactions. PCIA uses its far-reaching influence to boost opportunities for cultural exchanges, political activism, constructive advocacy, and cultural diplomacy.
NYCPCA and PCIA both exemplify Peace Corps’ Third Goal of bringing the world experienced by Volunteers back to their homes. Both of these affiliate groups provide a platform in which returned Volunteers can share their experience about the countries they served and educate their communities.
Cincinnati Area Returned Volunteers
Cincinnati Area Returned Volunteers (CARV) has a long-standing tradition of more than 15 years of volunteer work with refugees and immigrants. Since December 2015, CARV has been working on one of its many on-going projects with refugees, the Refugee Resettlement Service Project. In this project, CARV supports Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio in Refugee Resettlement by providing transportation to recent arrivals, teaching English classes and tutoring, moving families into their new apartments, and working with refugees doing community service at a demonstration farm. The CARV group is an exemplary example of Peace Corps’ Third Goal, bringing the world back home, by welcoming new Americans into their community as new friends and even family. CARV proves the power of partnering with like-minded organizations can make a big difference in the lives of our community members, a model that other NPCA affiliate groups can easily replicate. Read a blog post with more about their work here.
First Coast Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
First Coast has made advocating for the Peace Corps a core mission, prioritizing the role of NPCA Advocacy Coordinator, facilitating membership action and mass media engagement, and regularly meeting with Florida’s Congressional delegation. Notably, these efforts played a critical role in enlisting the support of former Rep. Ander Crenshaw, Republican co-chair of the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus and the Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance, who as a member of the Peace Corps’ appropriations subcommittee helped secure for the agency a record funding level for fiscal year 2016. Representative Ted Yoho, a First Coast-area lawmaker, has replaced Rep. Crenshaw on the Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance. Read their acceptance speech and a blog post with more about the group.
Friends of Liberia
Friends of Liberia worked in conjunction with Friends of Guinea and Friends of Sierra Leone to create the Ebola Relief Fund. Through this fund they provided grants, galvanized communities and re-purposed organizations to help stop Ebola's deadly spread throughout the region by feeding the quarantined, distributing cleansing supplies and protective gear, safely burying the dead, and disseminating life-saving information. As the crisis evolved, the Steering Committee adjusted the grant requirements according to the needs of the moment, shifting to caring for vulnerable populations who had been turned away by hospitals, such as orphans, widows and pregnant women.
Friends of Guinea
Friends of Guinea worked in conjunction with Friends of Sierra Leone and Friends of Liberia to create the Ebola Relief Fund. Through this fund they provided grants, galvanized communities and re-purposed organizations to help stop Ebola's deadly spread throughout the region by feeding the quarantined, distributing cleansing supplies and protective gear, safely burying the dead, and disseminating life-saving information. As the crisis evolved, the Steering Committee adjusted the grant requirements according to the needs of the moment, shifting to caring for vulnerable populations who had been turned away by hospitals, such as orphans, widows and pregnant women.
Friends of Sierra Leone
Friends of Sierra Leone worked in conjunction with Friends of Guinea and Friends of Liberia to create the Ebola Relief Fund. Through this fund they provided grants, galvanized communities and re-purposed organizations to help stop Ebola's deadly spread throughout the region by feeding the quarantined, distributing cleansing supplies and protective gear, safely burying the dead, and disseminating life-saving information. As the crisis evolved, the Steering Committee adjusted the grant requirements according to the needs of the moment, shifting to caring for vulnerable populations who had been turned away by hospitals, such as orphans, widows and pregnant women.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Wisconsin-Madison
The Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Wisconsin-Madison is a group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and other individuals who demonstrate a commitment to Peace Corps ideals. The group consistently organizes social outings and engages in a number of activities, such as producing a calendar and highlighting specific issues and initiatives. They have shown outstanding commitment to community service through their “We All” Campaign. The campaign allows educators to offer students glimpses at diverse cultures around the world while maintaining the profound underlying message that people, although highly varied in culture, actually all share key common basic, social, and personal needs.
Friends of Afghanistan
Friends of Afghanistan is an official National Peace Corps Association member group for those who have served in Afghanistan. Their mission is “to build and sustain an information exchange about Afghanistan and its people, and to network for their peace and prosperity,” with the goals of promoting constructive dialogue and understanding about the country. The group also organizes reunions and puts out a number of publications, including a magazine and a newsletter. The Friends of Afghanistan have also shown incredible commitment to community service. Since 1991, they have worked to increase development opportunities for Afghan women and children despite the enormous challenges presented by a long-lasting war in their former host country. The Friends of Afghanistan have organized numerous successful programs, particularly ones rooted in supporting education, political training, and market engagement training for Afghan girls and women who would otherwise lose their potential for social independence.
Central Missouri Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Central Missouri Returned Peace Corps Volunteers is a social, service, and networking organization for over 200 RPCVs in the Central Missouri area. They were noted for hosting their Third Goal International Film Festival. They first hosted the Third Goal International Film Festival in 2005, with 25 attendees; in 2014, they had an audience of over 500. The goal of the festival, as stated in their annual newsletter, is to “showcase films that address current global issues while engaging volunteers and community members in the third goal.” Each film is connected to a Peace Corps volunteer, or deals with issues in Peace Corps host countries, and is followed by a panel discussion between audience members and host country nationals. The festival brings Peace Corps members together with their community and gives them a platform through which they shared with Americans about the countries in which they served.
Friends of Pakistan
Friends of Pakistan USA (FOPUSA) is a group of Pakistan RPCVs who work alongside various organizations to foster understanding and good relations with the people of Pakistan. This organization has donated and assisted several programs dedicated to this goal, with a special emphasis on the promotion of women’s education. They are noted for establishing the first 11th and 12th grade programs ever offered for girls in the mountains of the Mansehra district of Pakistan, in partnership with the Hoshvar Foundation. Additionally, FOPUSA has a scholarship program with the Rerra Government Girls High School in Azad, Kashmir. Girls participating in these two programs are able to continue living in their own communities while working towards university entrance or training to be nurses, midwives, and health workers. FOPUSA is also recognized for funding $2,000 per year scholarships for the past five years to fund ten girls’ attendance at Phengali Girls High School.
Friends of the Dominican Republic
Friends of the Dominican Republic (FDR) is an organization constructed of former and current Peace Corps Volunteers, staff, and friends of the Peace Corps who seek to create a community that provides support to current volunteer projects, promotes the understanding and appreciation of Dominican culture, and shares news and information about the Dominican Republic.This award recognizes the Friends of the Dominican Republic’s exemplary efforts in leading the Community Challenge Fund, which has invested over $30,000 in 14 projects that have benefited 5,000 persons in the Dominican Republic.
Northern California Peace Corps Association
The Northern California Peace Corps Association (NorCalPCA) is a 600 member 501(c)(3) nonprofit, volunteer organization affiliated with the NPCA. NorCalPCA provides support for both domestic and international projects via funds raised at RPCV gatherings and conferences. The NorCalPCA utilizes these funds in backing community development projects across the world. In addition, the Northern California Peace Corps Association provides grants (generally ranging from $500-$2,000) to feasible projects aimed at improving community welfare, fostering self-sufficiency, and addressing community needs.This award recognizes the Northern California Peace Corps Association’s outstanding efforts in small service projects through efforts with the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, the National Park Service, any many more.
Friends of Tanzania
Friends of Tanzania (FOT) is a non-profit charitable and educational organization that sends 100% of the donations from its members to help support projects in Tanzania. Each year FOT is able to send about $30,000 for 10 to 15 projects and an additional $15,000 is given for specific Member Designated projects. In the last 20 years FOT (see attached history) has sent $350,000.00 to help support over 250 community development projects on Tanzania. Projects include simple water/sanitation systems, school construction, community reforestation efforts, micro-loans, bee hive activities, and many more. These funds come from donations made by FOT members. In October, 2011, Friends of Tanzania in Colorado invited Tanzanian Ambassador Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar to Denver and she accepted! A “Tanzanian Networking Event,” with more than 130 attendees, many of whom were FOT members, from 20 Colorado-based organizations, and many university researchers sharing information about their work in Tanzania, was held in honor of the Ambassador’s visit.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, DC
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, DC have an annual holiday party which serves as the only annual fundraising event. Board members raise funds through a silent auction, private donations, ticket sales, and calendar sales. In addition to raising funds for RPCV/W, this event is used as a platform to make an impact in the community. Each year, RPCV/W donates a significant portion of the money raised to a community partner selected as the organization’s yearly Partner for Peace. Out of several 2012 applications, RPCV/W awarded a $2,000 donation to Language ETC, a language, education and technology center for low income adult immigrants. During a teacher training for Language ETC, RPCV/W will assist new teachers by hosting language lessons. The goal of the lessons will be to provide new teachers with the opportunity to sit in the position of new students who have little exposure to the English language. Language ETC usually is only able to teach the teachers one language, but with the support of RPCV/W members there will be four languages taught by several teachers. This will give Language ETC the ability to better prepare teachers for their classes.
Project Wizard of the World (WOW), Friends of Malaysia
Project WOW brings RPCVs from Malaysia to grade school classrooms around the country in an effort to fulfill the third goal of Peace Corps – bringing the world back home – by promoting global awareness and cross-cultural understanding among young Americans. The 42 RPCVs of Project WOW use Malaysian folktales as a gateway for children to gain broader cultural understanding of Malaysia. In 30 states, over 3,300 elementary school students have gained some familiarity with Malaysia via these folktales, multi-media presentations, flashcards, show-and-tell, discussion, and Malaysian memorabilia – all provided by Tourism Malaysia and corporate donors such as Tuttle Publishing, G2, Inc., with support from DHL, Malaysia. Project WOW has been has been remarkably successful in organizing the project, engaging RPCVs, and reaching out to their communities nationwide.
Bring the World Home, RPCVs of Hawaii
Bring the World home is a 30-minute television program that interviews RPCVs about their experience of what it is like to serve as a volunteer. The topics that were discussed in the series were:politics, social structure, living conditions, economics, food, culture of host country, Peace Corps assignments, readjusting to life in the U.S, and advice that the RPCVs could give to those who were and are thinking about joining the Peace Corps. Only the host of the show, the guest, and the producer are RPCVs. Twenty-four shows have been taped so far and the group plans to tape more.
The Colombia Project, RPCVs of South Florida
The goal of The Colombia Project (TCP) is to aid Colombia’s displaced families while serving as a replicable model for 1) helping displaced families develop small businesses through direct, people-to-people assistance; 2) providing international aid with complete transparency; 3) encouraging local community initiative and sustainability and minimizing dependency; and 4) encouraging, supporting and cooperating with local non-profit organizations. Since 1999, TCP has sent $9600 to Colombia to support one education program and 34 small business programs. Through a partnership with ADESCOP, its first Colombian partner, TCP provided a year of schooling for 25 displaced children, delivered clothing and school supplies, and provided loans for 16 micro-enterprise development projects in Bogota settlements. The Colombia Project has also provided increased visibility for RPCVSF in the local community through the 2000-01 photo exhibits, which re-introduced the RPCVSF booth at the Miami International Book Fair. In addition, TCP provides an avenue for RPCVSF members to satisfy an oft-expressed desire to participate in meaningful service projects.
Peace Initiative, Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs
Ethiopia and Eritrea RPCVs (E&E RPCVs) have pursued every opportunity to advance the cause of peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea after a border war erupted in May 1998. Members of the groupﾒs Peace Initiative Committee helped establish a neutral, extra-official channel for the two countries to exchange views and proposals for resolving the conflict. Committee members also called upon the US Congress, the Department of State, the UN, other countriesﾒ diplomatic missions and private organizations.
When progress toward a peaceful resolution reached an impasse in 1998 over administration of the disputed area of Badme, E&E RPCVs proposed sending RPCVs to Badme to serve as neutral custodians. Unfortunately, the Ethiopians wrested Badme from the Eritreans before an offer could be reached.
A group of E&E RPCVs went on a peace-building mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea in June of 1999, meeting with the president of Eritrea and the prime minister of Ethiopia, as well as other senior government officials and important members of the public. During the long search for a peaceful resolution, E&E RPCVs have been held in high regard by leaders and foreign representatives of the two countries.
Friends of Sierra Leone
Friends of Sierra Leone celebrates Sierra Leone-American historical connections while educating others and organizing advocacy and relief efforts on behalf of the country. The group has hosted public events featuring U.S. and Sierra Leone government officials, donor community officials, anthropologists, artists, historians and leaders of civil society. Members have held speaking engagements in schools throughout the US. The group sponsored or co-sponsored advocacy days in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Between 1991 and the present, the organization also sponsored twenty relief and medical supply shipments totaling over six thousand dollars. In 2000 the group collaborated to bring victims of the Sierra Leone conflict to New York for treatment.
Youth Guidance Connections and Peace Corps Partnership in Ghana, Chicago Area Peace Corps Association
The Connections program based in the South Side of Chicago in what is verifiably one of Chicago’s most deprived neighborhoods focuses on youth empowerment and on youth seeking their own solutions to their and their community’s problems. The participants do service learning projects such as working with the homeless and voluntering in a Big Brother/Big Sister program. The students also raise money every year for a three week trip to Africa. Over the years CAPCA has been a generously supported the Connections program financially and otherwise.
The Borneo Project, Friends of Malaysia
Though the indigenous peoples of the Malaysian rainforest have legal protection, there is still pressure to have them removed from their lands and to have their land exploited for its natural resources. The Borneo Project helps the indigenous people to use the resources and to develop their communities in a sustainable manner. It also sponsors legal literacy campaigns to make villages aware of their legal rights and acts as a human rights watchdog by monitoring illegal and inhumane actions taken by the government or logging company officials. FOM has sold crafts made by a women’s cooperative in Borneo, sponsored the attendance of a speaker from the Borneo Project at the NPCA National Conference and raised over $5000 to sponsor a micro hydro plant. FOM’s support of this project has helped to foster group cohesiveness and has given members a positive use for their language and professional skills.
Philippine Scholarship Program, Peace Corps Alumni Foundation for Philippine Development
In 1982, using funds contributed by former volunteers, staff and friends of the Philippines, the PCAFPD established a scholarship program to provide educational opportunity for Filipino students with demonstrated financial need. The program uses a careful selection process to choose scholars of merit. The project is dedicated to the principle that motivated individuals, given the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills, can make a difference in the development of their communities and nation. As of 1999 PCAFPD had made it possible for 57 Filipinos to complete their degrees.
Spisske Podhardie Synagogue, Friends of Slovakia Association
Friends of Slovakia Association undertook the restoration of a 19th century synagogue and Jewish Cemetery in the town of Spisske Podhradie, Slovakia. The project involved not only the restoration of the site, but also the bringing together of different communities and institutions. The project was accomplished through foundation grants. Members of the Friends of Slovakia and local volunteers donated their time to the project.
Cameroon Childrens’s Center and Cross-cultural Exchange, RPCVs of Alaska
This ongoing program represents a collaborative effort among several community groups propelled by RPCVs of Alaska to establish ties between Alaskan and African students, and to fund the construction of a children’s community center in Cameroon. In June 1995 15 Alaskan high school students went to Cameroon where they lived with local residents while helping to build the Children’s Center. RPCVs of Alaska staged fundraising events such as a March for Africa. Efforts are on-going to make the Center self-sustaining.
El Barrio English as a Second Language Program, Northern Ohio Returned Volunteer Association
By 1992, Cleveland, Ohio’s Hispanic population had increased by 40%. Many if the newcomers were political refugees from Central America. For most these immigrants, poor English skills were a major barrier to employment. In response to this need NORVA and El Barrio, a local Hispanic empowerment group, established a self-sustaining English as a Second Language program. The NORVA-El Barrio partnership provided free English instruction, a bilingual GED program and classes on life/job skills. In addition they organized community service projects such as planting trees at a neighborhood recreation center.
HCRPCV’s Mexico project, Hill Country RPCVs
In the wake of Hurricane Gilbert HCRPCVs sent a team to El Chorizo, a poor Mexican community near the US border. On their first trip they constructed 6 houses. In subsequent trips they built and repaired over 50 homes and schools, and organized children’s activities. The community participated in the project through town meetings held to determine community needs. Members of the community also initiated similar projects on their own. Funding was provided through small grants and many materials were donated or recycled.
Africa Night/Fiesta Latina, North Carolina Peace Corps Association
Each year NCPCA holds an Africa Night and a Fiesta Latina to raise money for their own community service projects and for development projects abroad. In 1995 these events raised over $10,000. The money raised has, among other things, funded a high school in Kenya, a community library in Guatemala, a project to locate missing persons in Rwanda and NCPCA’s work with battered women.
International Calendar, RPCVs of Wisconsin/Madison
The RPCVs of Wisconsin/Madison won the Ruppe award in 1994 for their International Calendar. The Calendar continues to this day and has become renowned. The calendar features high-quality photographs taken by serving volunteers or RPCVs. The calendar is both beautiful and informative. Each month a photo from a different country is featured along with cultural information. The calendar features national, historical and religious holidays of more than 90 countries. Proceeds are donated to development projects and charities in the US and abroad.
Emergency Relief Assistance/ Peace and Institution Building, Friends of Liberia,
During the Liberian civil war Friends of Liberia provided over $100,000 in publicly raised funds for direct relief to Liberian refugees. FOL advocated for peace and kept the American public informed about the war by newsletters, e-mail and a video, “Liberia: The Path to Peace.” In 1991 FOL sponsored a public forum that brought together high-ranking representatives from all sides of the conflict in the United States for the first time. In 1993 they sent a fact-finding mission to Liberia and made recommendations to the Senate Foreign Affairs Subcommittee. FOL was instrumental in the establishment in the United States of Temporary Protected Status for Liberians.
Voices of Peace, Returned Volunteers of the Northwest
To promote cross-cultural understanding in their community, Returned Volunteers of the Northwest organized a weekly series of forums to present the people, culture and history of a country from a personal perspective. The program was initially in response to Americans’ intolerance and lack of understanding of Middle Eastern and Islamic cultures during the Gulf War. Each week a different country was the subject of these forums which became so popular that the meetings had to be moved to a larger facility.
An Arab Mosaic: North Yemen, Tunisia and Morocco, Boston Area RPCVs
Boston Area RPCVs held a series of three slide presentations and discussions at the Brighton Branch library in Boston. These were accompanied by a month long exhibit of handicrafts and photographs from the featured countries in the main lobby of the library. The exhibits and presentations drew large and diverse audiences. They were promoted through press releases and fliers.
Book Project, RPCVs of Southern Florida
RPCVs of South Florida put approximately 500,000 quality used and surplus books in the hands of students in over 20 sites in the developing world. Miami school districts donated the books, certain shipping companies provided free shipping and local costs were covered by a Rotary grant. The books were distributed in-country by serving volunteers and staff.