Letter from the RPCV-NJ president, Barbara Kelly

Dear New Jersey RPCVs:

As the newly elected President of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of New Jersey (RPCV-NJ), I wanted to introduce myself and the 2013/2014 Board. (Our contact information is at the end of this note.)

I also wanted to tell you about the Annual Meeting which we held on March 9, with a high turnout of RPCVs ranging from those who just completed their service to “veterans” who served in the early 1960’s.  The room was filled with energy, enthusiasm and ideas as we discussed our ambitious plans for 2013.

The 2013/2014 Board

First I would like to thank the 2012/1013 Board for all their efforts.  They greatly expanded RPCV-NJ’s initiatives in many areas such as Outreach, Fundraising, Member Database Management, and Advocacy.  The new Board plans to build on this momentum!

The 2013/2014 Board has a great mix of experience and new blood:

  • Gerry Gillio (Secretary) and Edie Ben-Israel (Treasurer) have been the backbone of the RPCV-NJ Board for many years and bring a lot of history and dedication to their roles.
  • Doug Donovan (outgoing President and current committee chair for Fundraising & Member Database) spearheaded last year’s expanded initiatives and increased communication with our membership.
  • Christie Musa (committee chair for Social Events) joined the Board last year after several years of developing a RPCV social network in the Skylands region in the NW part of the state.
  • I, Barbara Kelly (current President and liaison with the National Peace Corps Association), also joined the Board last year as the committee chair for Advocacy.
  • Lisa Nicolaison, (committee chair for Outreach and Volunteer Activities) was elected to the Board at this meeting.  She has been actively volunteering over the past year to coordinate our Outreach efforts (e.g. talks to schools/Girl Scouts) and to reach out to younger, newly returned volunteers.

Rowland Bennett (outgoing Secretary and long time Board member) has chosen to no longer be on the Board but will remain active as the committee chair for Advocacy.  And Wendy Sue Williams will continue her valuable role maintaining our RPCV-NJ website and Facebook page.

2013 Plans

Our objective as a Board is to make RPCV-NJ relevant and valuable to you and to our New Jersey communities, in the spirit of Peace Corps’ third goal.

Here are highlights of our 2013 plans – but we want to hear from you, as our members, about what would be relevant to you and how you would like to participate.  Please contact me or any of the Committee Chairs with any questions/ideas (and hopefully your willingness to volunteer – we can tailor work to the time you have available!)  I’ve included contact information at the end of this note.

  • Social Events/Ethnic Dining:  This was the highest priority of RPCVs who attended the Annual Meeting.  We plan to have regular ethnic dinners and social events in “hub centers” across the state so everyone will be able to attend functions that are reasonably close to home.  This is a chance to connect with fellow RPCV’s (who else can understand our shared service experiences as well?).  We will make every effort to have a Board member attend each event in order to update you on what is happening both at the state and national level.  If you can help in organizing a single dinner/social event near you, contact Christie Musa (see below).  She will handle publicity to our membership.
  • Outreach/Volunteer Activities:  Each year we get multiple requests from schools/Girl Scout troops for speakers. Peace Corps has a range of materials to help you with your presentations, and it is lots of fun.  We also want to identify and participate in local volunteer activities that support Peace Corps values.  Please respond to Lisa Nicolaison’s requests for speakers/volunteers and suggest volunteer opportunities to her.
  • Advocacy:  Our legislators in Washington do respond to constituent requests!  Rowland Bennett will keep our membership alerted to current Peace Corps Advocacy priorities.  Please contact your legislators when Rowland asks and let him know that you have, so we can track our advocacy efforts!   There is broad bipartisan support for Peace Corps in Congress, but our legislators need to be told how to make that support concrete!
  • Newsletter/Communications:  We want to move to more timely, more cost efficient communication with all the New Jersey RPCV’s, and our start will be an E-Newsletter as well as more focused emails (based on our improved Member Data Base).  Please contact Edie Ben-Israel if you would be willing help launch the E-Newsletter.  Also be sure to keep us informed of your email address!
  • Fundraising:  Remember that your financial support is essential to our efforts and respond as generously as you can when you receive our fundraising communications.  Your contributions cover far more than our organization’s operating expenses – in 2012 over 40% of your donations went to grants that RPCV-NJ gave to Peace Corps projects of current Peace Corps volunteers from NJ and to New Jersey non-profits with values consistent with Peace Corps.

As Peace Corps volunteers we know that we can make a difference, and with your help the RPCV-NJ organization intends to continue doing that – while having fun interacting with fellow RPCVs!

Contact information:

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