Megan Patrick posted an articleRemarkable Ways Affiliate Groups Create Impact see more
by Michelle Laws
Peace Corps Volunteers’ dedication to service doesn’t disappear when they return home. Rather, it becomes enhanced. By joining an NPCA affiliate group, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers address issues like hunger, homelessness, education, and much more in both their local communities and abroad. Here are just a few of the phenomenal activities by our groups this year:
Magnolia State Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Though small in number, these RPCVs made a mighty impact in Mississippi with their first service project. Working with the Mississippi Food Network, they dedicated their time to gathering supplies for food banks around the state. After becoming an official NPCA affiliate group in 2016, they look forward to expanding their service and outreach projects in 2017.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Los Angeles
Every RPCV knows that the holidays can be bittersweet when far from loved ones. To make them a little cheerier for currently serving Volunteers, the group sends out care packages to those who request them. Filled with magazines, hard to find seasoning, and tasty snacks, PCVs around the world receive a little bit of “home away from home” with each package. December 10th, they sent out 42 packages and have 16 waiting to be filled: http://bit.ly/2ghVAFF
Columbia River Peace Corps Association
RPCVs in the Oregon and Washington area provide meals for those affected by homelessness. Every month, they work with the Oregon Food Bank to coordinate over 45 million pounds of food to reach those in need throughout the region. Volunteers repackage and sort donated items so that they can be delivered in an efficient and effective manner.
Cincinnati Area Returned Volunteers
Leading the wave of RPCVs interested in utilizing their unique talents to help incoming refugees, CARV members have been active for the past year assisting Catholic Charities in refugee resettlement. Over 30 members contributed directly to making new Americans welcome by teaching English, providing transportation to appointments, gardening, moving furniture, and helping to organize World Refugee Day festivities. CARV is also currently mentoring a Syrian family of six.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington D.C.
In November of this year, ten RPCV/W members gathered to reinforce trail corridors, repair trail structures, and remove invasive plant species on the Holly and Pine Trails in the city’s Rock Creek Park. Following this, another group of ten RPCV/W members distributed 75 plastic bags filled with assorted groceries to at-need residents of a senior living complex in Columbia Heights.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida
This holiday season RPCVSF members are remembering those most in need — children. Through various gift drives, they gathered children’s books in Spanish, English, and French as well as a variety of toys. Group members then delivered all donations to youth in foster care with Educate Tomorrow.
These groups, as well as many others around the country, create positive impact and strengthen their communities through service. They prove that people-to-people conversations, assistance, and outreach bring people together. Those of us at NPCA are proud of the hard work and commitment by RPCVs to Peace Corps ideals after service. It is this dedication that makes our community as vibrant as it is. Thank you for all you do!
Jeremy Wustner-Brown posted an articleJeremy champions Peace Corps ideals after service through his involvement in affiliate groups. see more
By: Jeremy Wustner-Brown (Romania 2011-2013)
Before joining the Peace Corps as a 30-something, mid-career volunteer, I gave a lot of thought to what I really wanted to do with my life. At that point, I had already been fortunate to have had a great career with a number of outstanding firms, but I knew I wanted more. During this period, on the recommendation of a friend, I read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl discusses the meaning of life and how we can flourish in the face of daily challenges. The book is rather somber, but has had a lasting resonance with me. At the heart of it, Frankl posits that it is love that enables us to endure. For me, love is all about community and community is one of the many things that the Peace Corps provides.
This remains true following service as well. Not long after returning from my host country of Romania, I worked closely with a colleague to establish the General Services Administration (GSA) Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) Employee Association, or GREA for short. Also as a result of that work, I was asked to run for the board of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C. (RPCV/W) and today I serve the community as their Communications Director. These are both great organizations that work closely with NPCA as affiliate groups while doing their best to represent the RPCV community. I’ve found my time with both to be similarly rewarding to Peace Corps service itself.
Another influential book that drives home this point is Sebastian Junger’s Tribe. The NPCA hosted Junger this September at the Peace Corps Connect conference, where he discussed Tribe's focus on the benefits of a strong community. As members of the Peace Corps community we are fortunate to have served abroad in host communities with great social networks, and are equally fortunate to have come home to the great social networks of the RPCV community.
All of our paths are different, and what drives us varies widely, but for me, much of my purpose in life is satisfied through these communities, by continuing Peace Corps’ mission through them, and building lasting, meaningful relationships with those I serve alongside. So if you’re ever feeling down, or left out, know that as a current volunteer, an already returned one or as an aspiring volunteer, you’re surrounded by a loving community of likeminded folks dedicated to service.