Advocacy – Capitol Hill Day of Action

Friends, this February 28th we will be celebrating our 15th Day of Action in Washington, D.C. During our Capitol Hill Day of Action, we will meet with congressional lawmakers in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in order to ask for their robust support of the program. Please use this link today to register and let us know if you will be attending.

If you are unable to attend, we hope you will consider organizing a Days of Action solidarity event with RPCVs in your area to build on the momentum of our day on Capitol Hill! Follow this link to register your plans to conduct one or more solidarity events. Click here.

On the N.J front we have some great opportunities for advocacy!

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) has secured a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and she will be  the only New Jerseyan on the committee.  If you are in her district please consider setting up a meeting with her. If interested, please contact Susan Metzger.

Each year we request signatures from our representatives on a letter stating their support of the Peace Corps program. We ask that you reach out to your local representatives to express the value that P.C has for you! In particular, please consider reaching out to Senator Cory Booker here.

Project Support – Africa Surgery

RPCV-NJ held its first crowdfunding campaign in 2018. In partnership with Africa Surgery, Inc., a NJ-based non-profit organization established by RPCV Tom Johnson, funds were raised to provide medical intervention for Francess Kabia, (pictured) an 8-year-old Sierra Leonean. The campaign, spearheaded by NJ RPCV RJ Harper, successfully raised $2,350.00 and the funds received from Indiegogo after the close of the campaign were paid out to Africa Surgery in December 2018.

frances surgery

The funds raised supported not only Francess’s surgery but also, in order to fully utilize the funds, medical/surgical assistance was provided to one or more of the following Sierra Leoneans (all of whom are from small rural villages from different parts of the country):

Mariatu Koroma, age 14-15, whose left jaw has been swollen for over a year due to a decayed tooth. She has already had one surgery but might need a further one. She is staying at Africa Surgery, Inc. rented quarters in Freetown to be able to have regular check-ups and medical treatments from the oral surgeon in Freetown.

Kenfalah Kamara, age 32, also had his jaw swollen for over one year due to a decayed tooth. He too has had his first surgery and is staying at Africa Surgery, Inc. quarters in Freetown and is receiving ongoing treatment as he waits to see if he will need any further surgery to remove infection and ensure regrowth of his lower jaw bone. (The lower jawbone is the only bone in the human body capable of regeneration under certain conditions).

Fullahmusu Kabia, age 35, had a tumor of her parotid gland which was removed by the oral surgeon in Freetown. She is currently staying at quarters rented by Africa Surgery, Inc. in Freetown while getting regular check-ups and medical treatments.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of New Jersey and Africa Surgery, Inc. thanks are extended to those who contributed to this campaign and for believing in the importance of assisting unfortunate citizens in a country that has suffered a devastating civil war and an epidemic of ebola in recent years.

Thanks to Tom Johnson for his longstanding and continued work helping Sierra Leoneans, to RJ Harper for managing the crowdfunding campaign and sincere appreciation is extended to NJ RPCV Ilwon Kang who was extremely helpful in generating support for this campaign.

RPCV Family & Friends Holiday Party Update

On Saturday, December 8, we held our second annual RPCV Family and Friends Holiday Party at the conveniently located Reformed Church of Highland Park.  The weather cooperated for us and our attendance was up by 8 people from our first attempt at this event last year. Holiday and some Rock music filled the air throughout the day. Thanks to one of our social coordinators, Naomi Shank, the hall was nicely decorated to create a festive holiday atmosphere. She created an “ice breaker” game that encouraged attendees to engage in meaningful discussions with others in such a way as to gain insight into who we are and what our Peace Corps experiences were like.

As usual, our international potluck luncheon was very delicious and varied.  By the end of the event there was not a single person who went home hungry.  We seem to never be under-supplied at our potluck events.  It is very impressive to see the time and effort that people devote to their food creations from around the world.

We were pleased to share this event with New Jersey Peace Corps Recruiter, Dan Turkel and Rutgers Peace Corps Recruiter, Michael Lifschultz, both of whom set up displays and brought Peace Corps literature for all to share.  They also invited potential Peace Corps volunteers to the event and we are pleased to announce that a few of them attended with their parents.  This was a great opportunity for them to meet and talk with RPCVs who served in a variety of countries.  At the end of the event they told us that Peace Corps is the path they will pursue.

The spotlighted event of the afternoon was a set of pre-planned presentations by four RPCVs.  They each took 5-10 minutes to tell a story about their Peace Corps experiences, some of which were Christmas related.  Each story was just as interesting and intriguing as all the others.  In fact, after the four scheduled speakers finished, several people from the audience volunteered to take the mic and share their own stories.   Many thanks to all who spoke that day.   Here is a list of the four scheduled speakers in addition to the supplemental speakers who followed—

John Pearson – Malaysia 1967-1969
Barbara Kelly – Senegal 1971-1973
Pat Spencer – Tunisia  1994-1996
Michael Lifshultz —  Nicaragua 2015-2017
———
Barbara Lee – Paraguay 1968-1969
Doug Groff – Ecuador 1968-70
Stephen Kornstein – Botswana 1976-78
Rosalind Malloy – Nigeria 1965-67

Photos from the event can be found on our Facebook page.
Please consider joining us next year at our Holiday Party in early December 2019.

Doug Garatina, RPCV-NJ Social Chair

2019 RPCV-NJ Annual Meeting – March 30

Saturday, March 30th
Bridgewater Branch of the Somerset County Library, 1 Vogt Drive, Bridgewater, NJ 08807
9:30am Reception
10am-12noon Meeting
12:30pm Luncheon at Bombay Spice

In the past, the RPCV-NJ annual meeting was combined with the first Board meeting of the year.
Since 2015, it has been held on a different day, separating it from an actual business meeting altogether but reports were given from RPCV-NJ committees to give attendees an idea of ongoing RPCV–NJ activities.  In 2018, these reports were made briefer and additional time was devoted to presentations by RPCVs.

All RPCVs in NJ are encouraged to attend. 
If you have recently returned from your Peace Corps service and would be interested in giving a presentation, please email rpcvnj.president@gmail.com

Bombay Spice is a nearby Indian restaurant which holds a midday buffet luncheon for a modest cost and any interested meeting attendees can go to lunch together afterwards.  The restaurant is not very big so an RSVP is necessary. Please contact rpcvnj.social@gmail.com

Hope to see you in March!

Peace Corps Oral History Project

RPCV-NJ entered into a partnership with the Oral History Project when four NJ RPCVs were interviewed on November 5th, 2018 by two project representatives who traveled up from Washington, DC.

RPCV-NJ also purchased the recording equipment recommended in the project guidelines to allow interviews to be conducted in NJ and arrangements were made for NJ RPCVs Candy Wiggum & Ken Rizzi to conduct interviews within the state.

To date, eight NJ RPCVs have been interviewed and eleven more are on RPCV-NJ’s list to be interviewed.

Vision: Preserve the legacy of Peace Corps as experienced and articulated by individual Peace Corps Volunteers

Mission: To find and interview all returned Peace Corps Volunteers about their intercultural service experiences and deposit the recordings in the National Archives at the John F. Kennedy Library.

Goals:

  • Develop electronic publicity and initiate marketing to affiliate groups to promote the availability of oral history interviews for RPCVs
  • Train 50 more interviewers in all parts of the country
  • Raise $50,000 to digitize 520 interviews currently in analog cassette tapes, making them available for listening on the JFK Library website
  • Be interviewed

The project invites all Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to be interviewed.

“The toughest job you ever loved” is a slogan that resonates with many Volunteers. There are good days. There are great days. There are bad days. Some volunteers want to stay in their host countries forever; others can’t wait to come home. We all have stories to tell.

Please contact us if you’d like to be interviewed. We will connect you with an interviewer near you. Interviews must be conducted in person to assure the recording meets technical standards. Interviews average sixty to ninety minutes

Contact: rpcvnj.outreach@gmail.com or OralHistoryProject@peacecorpsconnect.org or sign up online.

 

RPCV Family & Friends Holiday Party 12/8

RPCVs & Others
Family & Friends
Holiday Gathering

Saturday, December 8, 2018
11am-3pm 

Bring your Spouse/Partner/Children/Grandchildren.
Anyone interested in the Peace Corps & their family members
are welcomed to attend.

Social Hall
Reformed Church of
Highland Park

19 S 2nd Avenue
Highland Park, 08904
Parking lot behind the church off Magnolia Street

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), individuals interested in serving in the Peace Corps, as well as family and friends are welcome to celebrate the holiday season together in Highland Park, NJ. 

RPCVs will share stories from their Peace Corps Service.

Peace Corps recruiters will be available to provide information & answer questions.

Holiday music will fill the air with some rock & roll music for those who like to dance. 

International Buffet – Pot Luck
Bringing a food you experienced in your Country of Service is encouraged but other contributions are welcomed.

 
Questions, contact:
Doug rpcvnj.social@gmail.com or
Naomi rpcvnj.social2@gmail.com

Great Swamp Nature Hike & Deserted Village Hike – November 10

Saturday, Nov. 10th at 10AM
Raindate – Sunday, Nov. 11th at 10AM

Starting Point Address:
The Great Swamp Outdoor
Education Center
247 Southern Boulevard
Chaham, NJ 07928 (Morris County)

RSVP to Doug rpcvnj.social@gmail.com by November 5th at the very latest.
This is a first-come-first-served event with a maximum limit of 20 people, so sign up as soon as possible.  Spouses/friends/family members are welcome.

Hike Difficulty = “EASY”

We will begin at the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center* parking lot and spend about 20 minutes looking at the nature displays in the Center. Then we will hike the nature trail loop with the Education Center’s guide book that describes the various sites along the way (about 60 minutes).

After the nature hike we will jump in our cars and take a 15 minute drive to Deserted Village of Feltville (and old mill company town from the 1800s). We will read the placards in front of each building and then do a 40 minute loop hike on a wooded trail to the original farm house foundation ruins from the 1700s.

Finally we will end the day with a lunch at a nearby ethnic restaurant.

Bring: 
Water, Snack, Sturdy Shoes/Sneakers (hiking boots preferred), Bug Spray and a Walking Stick (optional). Since this event includes hiking you will be required to sign a liability waiver at the start of the event.

* NOTE: The Great Swamp has two nature centers. The one that we are going to is in Chatham in Morris County (use the address given above in your GPS). Please do NOT go to the “Great Swamp Environmental Center” in Somerset County. 

RPCV Family and Friends Holiday Gathering – December 8

SAVE THE DATE

RPCV Family & Friends
Holiday Gathering

Saturday, December 8th 11am-3pm

Reformed Church of Highland Park

Stay tuned for more details but in the meantime, save the date.

Also, do you have a holiday celebration story from your Peace Corps service to share at the party?

If so, contact rpcvnj.outreach@gmail.com