PCV Funded Project: Peru Soup Kitchen

by P. Jimenez

Group photo of P. Jimenez and the girls served by the soup kitchen in Peru

On behalf of our community in Cutervo Peru, our mother’s committee, and the adolescents & families members benefiting from the Soup Kitchen, I would like to sincerely thank you for your generous donation and support.

Currently 5,030 young students are enrolled in the city public schools of the district of Cutervo, a region located in the northern Andes of Peru. In some urban areas, adolescents who attend these schools live in countryside and need to walk an average of 2 hours each day in order to go to their classes. That is why we concluded that the best strategy to improve this situation and increase the level of attendance and academic/physical performance of these students was to create a student soup kitchen. This Soup Kitchen, opened its doors in October of last year and is currently serving a breakfast snack and a healthy mid-day meal at an affordable rate to 60 students between the ages of 13 to 17. In addition, we built an organic greenhouse to ensure sustainability and the quality of the products served in the soup kitchen.


Students currently participate in trainings that promoted healthy living among adolescents in the community. We focused our workshops on the construction of a well-balanced diet, diarrheal illness, anemia, nutrition, and hand washing techniques. This Soup Kitchen is currently a pilot program but since we have received hundreds of request from parents wanting to have their children participate, we are looking to expand in the future.

The project is being run by PCV’s and the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Committee, integrated by 30 leaders of the community; all woman. We know that there is great potential for this project in the future. We look forward to seeing the impact that this soup kitchen will continue to have on our community. Thank you again for your generosity and commitment to the empowerment of women. We look forward to sending you more updates and pictures as we move forward in the process.


RPCV-NJ has an existing committee of individuals who have expressed an interest in working on Legislative Advocacy issues.

Our organization follows the lead of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) which, on their recently
revised website, has established
very well laid out

advocacy section providing
information on 
key issues and an easy way to connect you with your specific legislators by entering your street address and zip code.

If you can participate on this committee, often by just emailing or calling your legislator (or visiting their NJ office if you have the opportunity to do so individually or as part of a RPCV-NJ organized appointment), please contact:

Joanne Brandwood at 
You would then be added to the committee to get committee
messages about important legislative issues. Note that these advocacy messages will not be overwhelming.

“Rainy Days and Sundays” and Indian Luncheon – Jan 22

Please join us on Sunday, January 22 for a buffet luncheon at noon at The Clay Oven Indian Restaurant followed by the “Rainy Days and Sundays” Concert at 2 PM“Rainy Days and Sundays”

The Clay Oven Indian Restaurant
1140 Rt. 46, Ledgewood, NJ 07852
Buffet – $12 Plus Tax
12 Noon

RSVP to Doug Garatina no later than January 14 at rpcvnj.social@gmail.com

Please provide the first and last name and phone number (including area code) of each person attending (this info is needed to get you a seat at the concert and to notify you regarding a snow date decision). Also indicate if you plan to attend the buffet at noon as well as the concert at 2 PM.

Music of the Unforgettable
Female Singers of the 70’s 

First RSVP – First Served
(seats for performance are limited for Non-Randolph Residents)
(Snow Date: January 29th – We will notify you by phone if the concert is being postponed due to weather )

Sandy Taylor, Vocals
Maggie Hollinbeck, Guitar & Vocals
Ed Alstrom, piano

The program will feature songs such as
Joni Mitchell’s ‘River,’
‘Blue Bayou’ by Linda Ronstadt,
Helen Reddy’s ‘Candle On the Water,’
‘Landslide’ by Stevie Nicks,
Carole King’s ‘It’s Too Late,’
and of course,
Karen Carpenter’s
‘Rainy Days & Mondays.’

Concert @ Randolph Township
Free Public Library
28 Calais Road, Randolph, NJ, 07869
It is a FREE concert

View other upcoming events

Ken Lockwood Gorge & Columbia Trail RPCV-NJ & Future PCV Hike

On Saturday, December 3rd, 2016, Violet Esipila, a future Peace Corps Volunteer, joined with a total of 13 RPCVs, friends and family members for a wonderful 8-mile hike at Ken Lockwood Gorge & Columbia Trail.  Following the hike we had a great Mexican lunch at Casa Maya Restaurant in High Bridge, New Jersey.

Violet (a future PCV) was pleased to meet everyone on the trail and was given great advice. She will be departing on March 15th , 2017 for Ukraine to serve in Community Youth Development for the next two years and three months.

The group had a beautiful day for hiking and they were able to explore and learn a great deal about Ken Lockwood Gorge & Columbia Trail.

Advice Given to Violet by RPCVs

  1. Always take one step at time
  2. Take time to get to know the community and their culture
  3. Earn the community’s trust
  4. Patience – as one RPCV stated – is needed because it would take time to implement ideas that would be acceptable within the community.

Overall, the trip was a great way for a future PCV to hear positive words of encouragement from RPCVs. Each RPCV gave helpful advice to Violet as she prepares to travel abroad. As a future PCV, Violet would like to thank all of the RPVCs for inviting her, along with her family and friends, to such a wonderful hiking and dining experience at Ken Lockwood Gorge.

Dining at Casa Maya Mexican restaurant

Following miles and miles of hiking and seeing the most beautiful views at Ken Lockwood Gorge, we ended our day by having lunch at Casa Maya Mexican Restaurant in High Bridge, New Jersey. The food was delicious! The group had a wonderful time relaxing, eating, speaking about the nature of the Peace Corps and just enjoying each other’s company.

Thai Kitchen Dinner Recap

by Doug Garatina

On Saturday, November 12, the Board Members of the RPCV-NJ Organization had a regularly scheduled meeting at the Bridgewater Library.  Since these meetings always stimulate our hunger, we retreated to the nearby Thai Kitchen Restaurant for dinner,where we were joined by several other RPCV’s and their family members / friends.  We numbered 14 in all.


We were the only people in the restaurant at 5 PM when they opened, but within 30 minutes the place was packed and remained full all night — the food and service was that good.  If you have never been there, it is certainly worth the trip (just Google it.)  

The attendees included a 12 year old (son of an RSVP)—- a very adventurous eater who ordered a “sizzling platter”.  And we had an RPCV couple who served together in the 1960’s.  They had the honor and privilege of having the first Peace Corps baby born in service.  In addition to that, another attendee (Bob Goodsell) was recently accepted into the Peace Corps and will begin his tour shortly in Tanzania.  He got an earful from us and promises to keep in touch throughout his tour of service in the field of agriculture.

Please consider joining us at some or all of the varied activities that we sponsor.  Just refer to the emails and newsletters that you receive from us.

Hike the Beautiful Ken Lockwood Gorge & Columbia Trail – December 3

Date:  Saturday, December 3
Start Time: 10 AM  SHARP !

From the quaint town of High Bridge, hike into the scenic Ken Lockwood Gorge along the bank of the South Branch of the Raritan River and return a level up on the Columbia Trail.

Duration: 3 hours
Difficulty: Easy ( most of trail is on a wide, flat, gravel railroad bed)
Length: 7.5 miles  (feel free to return to starting point at any time)
Features:  Waterfall, River, Gorge, Historic Feature

Upon completion of hike we can have lunch at Casa Maya ( Great Mexican Restaurant), which is only 2 blocks from trail parking lot.

Driving Directions:
Take I-78 to exit 17 (westbound) or exit 16 (eastbound) for Route 31 towards Washington.  Drive about 2 miles on Route 31 then turn right on Main Street.  In 1.1 miles turn right on Bridge Street, proceed 390 feet, then left on Main Street.  Continue for .2 mile through town then turn left at The Commons sign to the parking lot.  If you pass Church Street, you just missed the entrance to the parking lot. Main Street dead ends in another block so there is an opportunity to turn around and approach from the other direction.

RSVP to Doug at rpcvnj.social@gmail.com 
by Thurs, December 1 at the latest.

Spouses/friends/family members are welcome.

November 6 Bill & Harry’s Chinese Lunch Recap

by Barbara Kelly

On Sunday, November 6, seven RPCVs and four family members met for a delicious mid-afternoon meal at Bill and Harry’s Chinese Cuisine in East Hanover.


Our service spanned the years and the world.  The earliest volunteer began in 1965; the newest volunteer in 2008.  Our countries included multiple African nations, Honduras, Iran and the Philippines.

Yet we found many similarities, as we chatted over our meal and gave brief descriptions of our assignments in a fun “show and tell” accompanied by photos we had brought of our younger selves.  Two volunteers, a half a world apart (Sierra Leone and Philippines), had introduced tilapia fingerlings into the flooded rice fields of farmers to increase the protein in their diet.  Two volunteers (Honduras and Senegal) had worked with community/youth development.  And teaching was the most common thread (English and Math/Science) in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Iran.

We also reminisced about traveling throughout our regions, with hair raising hairpin turns in some places and flat sandy roads in others.  And about the local people who had been such an important part of our experience.

ASU Coverdell Master’s Fellowship for RPCVs – Apply now!


The Coverdell Fellows Program (formerly known as Fellows/USA) is a graduate fellowship program that offers financial assistance to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who want to earn a graduate degree. All Fellows provide much-needed assistance to underserved American communities.

Arizona State University offers 12 Coverdell Fellowships per year that include:

  • tuition assistance for most or all of a master’s degree
  • increased earning potential in your career
  • expanding the experience and skills that you gained in the Peace Corps while serving your local community
  • real-world experience in solving economic and social challenges that face the nation and the world

Through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program, you can earn a master’s degree in several areas, including:

  • business (MBA)
  • education, including teacher certification
  • engineering
  • justice studies or political science
  • psychology
  • social justice and human rights
  • social technologies

Deadline for application is April 1 for 2017 fall semester and fellowships are limited. Review the ASU Coverdell website at graduate.asu.edu/coverdell-fellowship  for requirements, instructions, benefits and programs available to you, and to file an application. Questions? Please contact Christian.Ammon@asu.edu.

Learn to thrive at ASU, ranked the most innovative university in the country by U.S. News and World Report 2016.