On the Hill, RPCVs in, RPCVs out

The Peace Corps Polyglot—the blog of the National Peace Corps Association, the independent group of images-2Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV)—announced last week that RPCV Congressman Chris Shays (R-CT) was defeated Nov. 4.  Shays served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji (1968-70).

The blog post also follows the fate of other RPCVs up for election this fall.

Shays has been an active proponent of national service in the House and participated in the Service Nation Summit September 12th in New York. He co-founded the bi-partisan Congressional National Service Caucus in 2004.

On the topic of national service, from his Congressional web site:

I believe national service is one of the wisest and least costly investments our government can make. For example, AmeriCorps volunteers provided:

• 3.8 million CNCS program participants;
• 216 million hours of service;
• Recruiting and/or managing 1.8 million volunteers.
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, 72 percent of AmeriCorps members continue to volunteer in their communities after their term of service ends and 87 percent of former AmeriCorps members accept public service employment.

National service benefits both the recipient and the giver. Volunteers not only address an immediate need, they lead and teach through example, and through that example they learn the value of serving and helping others.

I still remember how I felt as a 14 year-old watching the 1960 Presidential election between Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John Kennedy. I felt energized listening to Senator Kennedy when he spoke of the Peace Corps and making the world a better and safer place. I wanted to be part of his vision. Years later, that dream was fulfilled when my wife Betsi and I served two years in the Peace Corps.

The same powerful emotion, the same sense of energy, eagerness and anticipation we felt in the sixties, is alive today.

Read the independent Peace Corps Online story about Shay’s loss.

RPCV David Schweidenback pushes Pedals for Peace

Today Peace Corps Polyglot highlights the work of Returned Peace Corps Volunteer David Schweidenback and his innovative program that brings bikes to people who need them in the developing world.

Pedals for Progress takes bikes that would otherwise be discarded and ships them to developing countries where transportation on a bike often makes a huge difference in people’s lives.  Because many people in developing nations have to walk everywhere, their access to services, resources, and jobs is significantly hindered.  Simply owning a bike can provide people with the ability to get the things they need and work more effe ctively.  Since 1991, P4P has rescued over 115,000 bikes shipped them to impoverished people in 32 countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

At Peace Corps’ 40th annivesary celebration at the JFK Library in Boston in 2001 I had a chance to meet Schweidenback. He was a really nice guy. His work was so impressive to me, because transportation makes such a huge difference in people’s lives.

A similar project that plays out at the local level here in Portland, OR, is the Community Cycling Center‘s Earn-a-Bike program, where donated bikes are refurbished, people with low-incomes apply to receive a bike, and recipients attend an orientation to bike commuting.