NEWS - October, 2006

Peace Corps Turns 45

The NPCA and Group Leaders Forum meetings in DC

Bob Findlay
West regional representative to NPCA board

To mark the occasion, the annual general meeting of the NPCA, the Group Leaders Forum, and the NPCA board meeting were all scheduled for Friday, September 15 in Washington, DC. Major decisions in the meetings focused on individual and group memberships in NPCA. Procedures for both have been greatly simplified in the past year, and will be even more so with the adoption of a single membership category at $35 with the option of joining geographic groups such as WSPCA, COS groups, and/or the NPCA in an a la carte manner. An associated change will be a simpler and more direct payment of membership fees to NPCA and groups. Trina James, who ably organized the last great rpcv gathering in Chicago, has brought new life to the Group Leaders Forum as its newly elected coordinator.

Over ninety visits to congressional representatives and senators took place the day before during the NPCA advocacy effort proactively focused on increasing appropriations for a larger number of Peace Corps volunteers as promoted by the president. Ironically, the venue for the morning kick-off meeting was usurped by Bush, who was lobbying congress to approve the interrogation of suspected terrorist detainees.

45th AnniversaryInterspersed with all these meetings were celebrations of the 45th anniversary of Peace Corps. A lunchtime reception at the Ghana Embassy was a central event and there were many Country of Service receptions and dinners over the weekend. Personally, I attended a reception at the Colombian Embassy that was a last minute event as the incoming Colombian Ambassador, Carolina Barco (the former foreign minister and only two weeks in office) by chance noticed mention of the Friends of Colombia PC group in the embassy files. Her twenty-minute talk to the rpcvs was in the most beautiful Spanish I have heard in years. PC has not been in Colombia in twenty years, yet the FOC group is actively supporting small enterprise and educational projects in country.

Although NPCA represents us very well as our lobby group in Washington, DC, its finances continue to be fragile and the annual gatherings will be rather low-key, but there are plans underway for a large gathering to celebrate the Fiftieth anniversary of Peace Corps in 2011.


Olympia couple uses their shea-butter business to build a brighter future for Togo

The Seattle PI recently reported on the work of an Olympia couple who started Alaffia Sustainable Skin Care Products, a unique small business that markets skin care products made in Togo from shea butter. Members of a workers co-op there harvest the raw ingredient from the nuts of the wild shea tree and process it for a variety of lotions and soaps. Making shea butterThe business (which is based here and sells the products domestically and internationally) also functions as a social enterprise, earmarking 10% of its proceeds to development projects, which are making a real difference both for workers and their families, as well as for the economy of Togo. Alaffia is the brainchild of Olowo-n'djo Tchala of Togo and his wife Rose Hyde, who met during her Peace Corps service in that country. Rose served as a Sustainable Agriculture Volunteer in both the Central African Republic (from 1995-96) and in Togo (where she was transfered following a military coup attempt in the CAR), until 1997. They subsequently came to the US to complete their educations in California, then relocated to the Olympia area.


History of National Service in the USA

Joana Ramos, Brasil 73-75

While fact-checking the article on WSPCA's name, I came across some very interesting articles about the recent history of US national service. You might like to take a look at the chapters on Peace Corps and VISTA, as well as the rest of A History of National Service in America, Peter Shapiro, Ed. (Center for Political Leadership and Participation, 1994) now available online at:

Also of note is the VISTA Living History website, which contains the article Brief History of VISTA, describing its philosophical origins derived from the Civil Rights Movement, the War on Poverty, and the Peace Corps. See:


Challenge: New Name for WSPCA

Want to help WSPCA flourish in the new millennium? It may be time for our group to undergo a name change. At our planning meetings over the past few months, WSPCA's officers have been discussing the need to have our group's name better reflect who we are geographically. When the group was founded in 1977, it was called RAVN, or Returned Action Volunteers of the Northwest. The name was chosen to to include alumni of the 2 programs run by the then-federal agency ACTION: VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and Peace Corps. When ACTION was disbanded in 1993, VISTA was rolled in to the Americorps program under a new agency. Thus the rationale for RAVN name ended, and the group became the Washington State Peace Corps Association.

At that time, we were the only Peace Corps alumni group in the state of Washington. Now, more than a decade later, that has changed too. There is now an active group in Spokane, as well as WSPCA satellite groups in Olympia and Bellingham, as well as on Bainbridge Island. When people ask if there is an RPCV group in Washington, it is thus confusing to have to explain that despite the name, WSPCA is a Puget Sound-based group, while Eastern Washington has its own group, the Inland NW Peace Corps Association.

Now its your turn to help us choose a new name that reflects who we are, both in terms of location and purpose. To make the process fun, we are offering a prize to the person who submits the winning name: the beautiful 2007 International Calendar, published by the Madison, WI, RPCV group. CalendarWe'd like a name that is easy to pronounce, spell, and remember, has an acceptable acronym, maybe is kind of catchy. (One potential name has been suggested already: PCAPS, Peace Corps Alumni of Puget Sound.)

So get your thinking caps on, and send your ideas to Jen Nicholas at by November 15. The winning name will be announced at our December holiday party.


WSPCA Dues Due

At our yearly planning meeting on August 26, the board decided to change our system of dues payment. In the past, members' yearly dues were payable on the anniversary of the month they joined WSPCA; someone who joined in July 2004, for example, would pay their dues every July. This system was workable for a small group, but now that we are at 275 members and counting, it has become unwieldy. To streamline this process, we will now be collecting everyone's yearly dues in the month of September, and all memberships will go from September to August of the following year. This will also allow us to better plan our budget each October, as we will have a better idea of our revenues.

As we are already out of September, we ask that every member of WSPCA pay their dues by October 31 for the 2006-2007 year. Please make checks out to WSPCA and mail them to the following address:

PO Box 55914
Shoreline, WA 98115-9998

Dues may also be paid in person at our October 8 general meeting (see events page for time and location).

To facilitate the processing of all these checks, a membership form is available on our website. Please print out and complete the form and mail with your check. If that is not possible, please list country and years of service in the memo line, as well as which membership the dues are for: NPCA, WSPCA (local membership only), and/or "Friends of" membership.

Thanks for your cooperation! Any questions can be directed to Jen Nicholas at 206.856.8309 or You can also give checks to Jennifer Samnick, our Membership Coordinator, or Temma Pistrang, our Treasurer, if you see them. We hope that this system will make dues-paying easier to remember, easier to plan, and just more convenient for everyone!


WSPCA Needs Your Help

Got a few hours per month to spare to help WSPCA? We are in urgent need of people to fill the following positions:

Events Coordinator(s)

To handle basic organizational tasks including:

This position can be shared by 2 or more people to increase the fun.

To handle WSPCA communications, including taking minutes at meetings, and transcribing them for the newsletter/website.


Best of the Web

Best of the Web is a new feature of our newsletter and website listing resources for learning more about events, news, discussion, and organizations that share the international and multicultural interests of WSPCA. We hope to make it a permanent feature, and so invite you to submit your favorites to share here. This month's listing highlights a WA State Coalition for International Education, committed to preparing students for today's interconnected world.

We continue to welcome submissions to our listserv (as per Submissions Guidelines) , but there is so much going on in the Puget Sound area, that we can't possibility list everything nor in a timely manner. Thus, we want to alert you to good resources where you can find out more on your own. As this list grows, entries will be organized into ready reference categories. Please send your submissions to: