May 2015 Newsletter

Contents of May 2015 Newsletter – Volume 35, Issue 5

  • Letter from the president
  • Letter from the editor
  • Announcements
  • May Potluck Program
  • Call for RPCV Research Presentations
  • Volunteers Needed for 2015 Portland Pride
  • Call for Work Group participants
  • Book Group Update
  • 2015 NW Regional RPCV Family Campout
  • 2015 CRPCA Family Campout
  • CRPCA May to June events

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Letter from the president

At our April meeting we elected new board members. I would like to thank all those who have chosen to complete their board service. Your contributions and impacts are greatly appreciated. I am also grateful for those who have given me suggestions and ideas on how we can move forward.

CRPCA is a great organization, among the best returned volunteer groups in the country. As I begin my term as president I am standing on the shoulders of giants who have helped build and guide the group. In turn, I have a responsibility to do the best I can to insure we try fresh ideas, encourage new participation, and look for ways to grow, while maintaining the foundations that have gotten us this far.

Some of the following are my ideas and some others have suggested to me. I believe they are worth your consideration as CRPCA members and giving a try:

  • Try new formats for the monthly potluck. Some good suggestions are: board game night, movie night (a rented movie on DVD with an international theme), networking night (ask for questions on jobs and the community ahead of time so we can prepare and discuss them at length).
  • Consider a variety of settings for the potlucks. I really liked the school we used this month (thanks Liz for organizing this!) and think we should use it more often. In warm summer months we can have a picnic in a park.
  • Have some meetings on a Saturday instead of a Sunday (or maybe even a Friday night occasionally). We sometimes lose some members who have to work on Sunday.
  • Don’t overload the potluck agenda. Either a speaker or business meeting, but not both…. and sometimes maybe just a social.
  • Allow for more spontaneity. Maybe some members just want to get together for a beer on short notice; this could be done with Meet Up or a similar app.
  • Maybe every third or fourth book club meeting could be “Open Book,” with no planned book for the night. Attendees would each get 10 min or so to talk about a recent book they read or a topic in the media.

So far as I am able, I am going to let board members do their good work while I focus on outreach—bringing in new members, following up with those who have attended an event for the first time, and soliciting ideas on what is working and what is not working. To this end, I’ve received a suggestion to have a (optional) sign up sheet at meetings. I could then email or call new attendees and get their feedback. I also want to explore social media options. Maybe we could have Twitter replace the e update. I want to recruit some help for the newsletter, too.

Please feel free to discuss your ideas with me or other board members at any time. I am fiercely egalitarian and believe all jobs and all members in this group are vital. Oh, and by the way we need a service coordinator….

Thanks for your time.
Tom DeMeo, Ghana 1980-1982 & Botswana 1982-1984

Letter from the editor

This month's newsletter includes programming information for the May potluck, calls from local Peace Corps recruiters to help out with Peace Corps events, as well as a letter from CRPCA's new president. You can find out more about the results of last month's elections over on the website. If you would like to be profiled in June (or know of someone who should be), please get in touch! If you have any announcements or information that you'd like shared in the June newsletter, send it my way before May 25. Until next month!

— Meaghan Corwin, Armenia 2008–2011 & Mongolia 2011–2013


¶ Oregon Public Broadcasting is seeking a marketing coordinator – deadline to apply is May 13, 2015.

¶ Green Empowerment, a local Portland NGO working in conjunction with AsoFenix, a Nicaraguan NGO in the municipality of Boaca is sponsoring a service learning trip to El Jocote, a remote village June 6-14, 2015. Several of us here in Portland are joining with a Bay Area group to form a team. We will live with the villagers, work on several projects such as patio gardens, new latrines, new improved cook stoves, solar panels, have a weekend R & R as well as visit other environmental sustainable projects in which AsoFenix is involved. Please see more by going to the Green Empowerment website or emailing Gloria Halper at

¶ Copies of the 2015 International Calendars are still available. We'lll have them at all CRPCA social activities through the end of the year, but you can also contact your neighborhood representative (info on the CRPCA website) to get your calendar(s), or you can make an order through our checkout page. Proceeds from the calendar sales support the CRPCA grants program.

May Potluck Program

The complete newsletter article can be read elsewhere on the CRPCA website.

Call for RPCV Research Presentations at Peace Corps Connect, University of California, Berkeley, June 5-6, 2015

Whether you are an RPVC Graduate Student, Faculty member, or Professional, this is your chance to go beyond your disciplines and share your research with a wide Peace Corps Community!  We're a curious group and we want to know what you're investigating and learning, so come present your findings at Peace Corps Connect! Here are some details:

Submitting a research presentation proposal for Peace Corps Connect is easy:  Have your basic information as well as a title and abstract (200 words) ready, and then follow this link to submit your proposal online.  RPCV Research Presentation Proposal for Peace Corps Connect 2015

  • Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis and our final deadline for submitting a proposal is April 15th.   
  • Proposals in all disciplines are welcome!  As in previous years, we are seeking a diverse mix of research topics and methodologies that represent our diverse RPCV community. If you are passionate about your research, we want to hear it!
  • Research presentations will be integrated across the two-day program in 1-hour sessions (with 1-3 presenters in each session) and will include support for audio/visuals. 

Email with any questions to:

Once more: Here's the link to submit your Research Presentation Proposal online, and also to learn more and register at anytime for Peace Corps Connect Berkeley 2015 (early bird discount through March 31st and additional discount for RPCVs who COS'd after Jan 1st 2012!)

Volunteers Needed for 2015 Portland Pride

Represent Peace Corps at the 2015 Portland Pride Festival! Peace Corps has a table and will be representing the diversity of American backgrounds our Volunteers take with them all over the world.

What: The 2015 Portland Pride Festival
Why: Representing America abroad is a huge aspect of Peace Corps. And with the recent changes made within Peace Corps, it is more exciting and important than ever to get the word out about service opportunities for all interested in Peace Corps.
When: Saturday June 13th & Sunday June 14th, 12pm – 6pm both days
Where: Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Who: You! Sign up for one hour or six hour shifts – whatever works best for you.

Either way, we would love to have your support in representing Peace Corps at Portland Pride! Please RSVP to Pravin Mallavaram no later than Monday, June 8th at He is looking forward to hearing from you!

Would you be interested in participating in a Work Group?

A small group of 4 or 5 people would meet at one of the group member’s homes and do a project together, for 3 or 4 hours or however long the group decides (it’s the same amount of time at each home).

Every week, or every other week, or once a month (the group would decide how often) the group would meet again at a different member’s house to do a project there.

The group rotates thru the members’ homes doing whatever the home-owner wants done until everyone has had the group at their house once. The group can decide whether or not to continue the rotation, can change its membership or not…whatever it decides to do from that point on, once a complete rotation is achieved.

I belonged to a Single Parents by Choice work group for many years. Our projects included: putting new fabric on dining room chairs; picking plums off the plum tree; washing and waxing the car and vacuuming it out; painting bedroom walls; cutting-back thickets of blackberry bushes; cutting the grass, edging, and weeding the flower beds; cleaning out and organizing the garage; scrubbing down basement walls; packing up rooms for a move; and so on.

It’s amazing how much four adults can accomplish working together. Because we were all single parents, in my group, one parent babysat all the kids AND prepared a simple lunch for us all. When the four hour work shift was over, we all drove back to the home where the kids were and had lunch together. That way, when we all left for the day, we were all fed and for single parents, that was a big bonus as well. Then we rotated to the next house the next month. I worried I would work like a dog at everyone else’s house and then everyone would quit before we got to mine. But this never happened and as I said, we continued our Work Group for YEARS, just taking some summer months off for vacations and the like.

It worked out best when the ‘host’ person was all prepared for us to be there and had all the tools and ‘equipment’ planned and ready, so no time was wasted once we all arrived. It is best if the group is no more than 4 or 5 people because if the group is larger it takes too long for the last person to get his/her turn. It’s best if only 1 person has a complicated schedule. In my group, all the others were flexible so we were all able to accommodate the woman with the complex calendar. If more than one person has complications, things could go sideways and fall apart too easily, in my opinion.

If you are interested in being in a Work Group please email me: Mention 2, 3, or 4 projects you’d like to undertake if you have a work group at your house.

Let me know some basic scheduling parameters like: almost any Saturdays are fine; or Sunday nights are out; or I can’t do Tuesday nights, or what have you. You must be willing to commit to helping the others out in your group. You cannot have a group over to your house to work, and then quit, or offer up a schedule where every hour of every day is blacked out.

Tell me where you live generally. Maybe if there are enough people we can have two groups based on location within the metro area.

Brenda Michel,, RPCV, Sierra Leone 1986-88

Book Group Update

Don't forget, we're reading Rajeev Goyal's The Springs of Namje: A Ten-year Journey From the Villages of Nepal to the Halls of Congress (2012) on Friday, May 22, 2015, 7:00-8:30 pm. We'll be meeting at the home of Don Messerschmidt, 1218 SE 121st Ave in Vancouver WA, 360-256-8596. Participating in our discussion–in person–will be Rajeev Goyal, the book’s author! Feel free to bring snacks to share.

2015 NW Regional RPCV Family Campout

Date: August 13-16, 2015 (2:30 PM Thursday – 1 PM Sunday)
Place: Beacon Rock State Park (Group Site G1), Skamania, WA
Pricing: $18.00 per person flat rate (no matter how many nights you stay.) Kids 14 and under camp FREE! And NO charge for parking.

Right on the Columbia Gorge, you can enjoy the view from the top of Beacon Rock, visit the fish ladders or just hang out at camp and visit.

With room for up to 200 people, this site has plenty of space for games, many tents and small RVs (no hook ups.) Activities will include the quarterly regional group leaders meeting on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday the 15th CRPCA will be providing dinner to all campers, and would love it if any local non campers came out to the park to join in! Day use fee to be paid at the gate. Plenty of parking at the site for our visitors!

Sunday morning’s breakfast is hosted by the 2016 coordinating group.

To register, please send an email with the number in your party and the nights you will be there to We will start collecting the $18.00 per person fee soon, watch for more info in the CRPCA E-Updates.

2015 CRPCA Family Campout

Date: June 18-21, 2015 (4 PM Thursday–Noon Sunday)
Place: Kingfisher Group Site, Milo McIver State Park, Estacada, OR
Pricing: $12.00 per person flat rate (no matter how many nights you stay.) Kids 14 and under camp FREE! And NO charge for parking.

We have reserved the Kingfisher Group site, which will hold up to 100 people, has lots of room for games and space for many tents. This park has hiking trails, boat ramps and a disc golf course on top of being a beautifully forested getaway. Flush toilets are right at our group site along with ample parking. Showers can be found in other parts of the park, which would be a short drive away.

This year we are doing things a bit differently. First, we are expanding to three nights, for those who want to start the weekend Thursday evening. We will have a light meal ready that evening so you can focus on getting your tent set up and not worry about dinner.

Second big change is that kids (14 years old and under) camp FREE! We have a ton of space at this camping location so there will be soccer, volleyball, bocce and croquet just for starters. Any other suggestions for kids activities are welcome!

Saturday the 20th we will have a potluck dinner, and would love it if non campers came out to the park to join in! $5.00 day use fee to be paid at the gate. Plenty of parking at the site for our visitors!

To register, please send an email with the number in your party and the nights you will be there to We will start collecting the $12.00 per person fee soon, watch for more info in the CRPCA E-Updates

CRPCA May to July events

May 2015

Friday, 05/01/15, 6 pm to  8:45 pm, Evening Hospitality for the Homeless, St. Andre Bessette, 601 W Burnside in Portland. We'll be serving a meal and helping in the kitchen. Meet at the front door as a group at 5:45 PM; if no one is there please wait and someone will come downstairs to meet you.  Children over age 6 with adult chaperone are welcome to volunteer with us! (Families with young children can leave early.)  Last minute additions welcome.

Friday, 05/08/15, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm – Cascadia Cave Tour –  near Cascadia State Park. Cascadia Cave is the largest and most complex rock art site in western Oregon, and tribes consider it among the most important ancient sites in Oregon. Oregon State Parks' Tony Farque offers free, info-packed tours to community groups on pre-arranged weekdays. The tours are appropriate for everyone from adults to school-age children. Tours take place regardless of weather; rain and/or sun gear is recommended. Attendees are also advised to bring water and lunch. Photography (even with flashes) is allowed, but videos are prohibited. First-come, first-served camping is available at Cascadia State Park, but folks coming from Portland should consider departing at 7:30 am. CRPCA members and our families and friends are invited to register for the May 8 or July 2 tour (and to request or offer a carpool) by contacting Bill Stein at cavetour AT or 503-830-0817. Registrants will be provided directions to the meeting location.

Sunday ,05/10/15,  5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, Potluck Gathering10210 SW Shearwater Loop  in Beaverton.
 Note the change of date and time from the earlier announcement! Please bring a dish to share to the 5pm potluck dinner. After dinner, starting at 6pm, our featured presenters will be CRPCA members James and Maria Beebe (RPCVs who served in the Philippines), on "Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50." Hosted by Edina Butler, 206-474-4809.

Monday, 05/18/15, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm – Soirée, Lucky Labrador Brew Pub, 915 SE Hawthorne Blvd. in Portland. This is a great way to link up with other RPCVs, hear interesting stories from around the world, and grab a drink and a bite to eat among good company. You can usually find us in the front room.

Friday, 05/22/15, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm – Book Club1218 SE 121st Ave in Vancouver. The book to read is The Springs of Namje: A Ten-year Journey From the Villages of Nepal to the Halls of Congress (2012). Participating in our discussion–in person–will be Rajeev Goyal, RPCV Nepal (2001-2003),the book’s author! See our Upcoming Book Discussions page, for more information.Feel free to bring snacks to share. Hosted by Don Messerschmidt, 360-256-8596.

Wednesday, 05/27/15, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm – Job Search Support GroupLloyd Center in Portland.This is an informal gathering of CRPCA members and friends who are seeking new work. Location at Lloyd Center in Portland.  Meet 7pm at the Food Court (3rd floor) exiting the elevator to the left side of the food court, looking for CRPCA sign plate overlooking the ice rink edge, or call Gordon Young at 206-351-6465 for our location if you arrive later. Contact Gordon at networking A for more information.Informal gathering of CRPCA members and friends who are seeking new work. Stay tuned for location.   Contact Gordon at networking A for more information.

Thursday, 05/28/15, 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm – Service Activity – Oregon Food Bank, NE 33rd Drive in Portland. We will be packing food at the Volunteer Center. Children over age 6 with adult chaperones are welcome to volunteer with us. RSVP to service @ Last minute additions are welcome. The food bank reminds us not to wear open-toed shoes.