RPCVs of NENY had a very successful virtual meeting on March 31st where members welcomed an evacuated Peace Corps volunteer (EPCV) to the group and discussed ways this group could the EPCVs. See meeting notes below for more information on the meeting.
Tuesday, March 31 Virtual Meeting Notes
Update from NPCA– Jonathan Pearson, NPCA Advocacy Director gave an update on advocacy and the evacuation of all Peace Corps volunteers. Also, Kevin Blossfeld from NPCA gave information throughout the meeting.
- Stimulus Bill includes $88 million to Peace Corps for evacuation & transition costs.
- Still important to encourage Senator Gillibrand to sign the Senate’s “Dear Colleague” letter for Peace Corps funding in the 2021 federal budget. https://advocacy.peacecorpsconnect.org/email-congress#/54
- There is still the NPCA challenge to send 100,000 messages to Congress to continue supporting the Peace Corps in the future: https://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articles/100000-messages-to-congress
- All evacuated PCVs are now in the U.S.
Introductions– it was great to have 31 people on the call! We saw many familiar faces, but also friends who now live in NH and Scotland! And many new faces of RPCVs who live in areas across NY. Also, we welcomed staff and faculty from the University of Albany SUNY. And thank you to Barbara from the Western North Carolina RPCV group for joining us and stealing some ideas for your meeting on Thursday! : )
Advocacy Update– Jonathan covered most of this update, but RPCVs of NENY Advocacy Coordinators, Anthony Swingruber and Sue Senecah also added information.
Update from Peace Corps- David Gittelman gave the update from Abbey Knickerbocker, Peace Corps Recruiter for Upper New York and Western MA/CT.
- COVID- 19 Updates – https://www.peacecorps.gov/coronavirus/
- Primary information source for evacuees can be found at – https://learning.peacecorps.gov/login/index.php
- Please have evacuees interested in re-instating/re-enrolling email me at email@example.com
- If someone is interested in applying for a Peace Corps position for which they are qualified, and have NCE, they mustapply to the link below. Once added to the RPCV/RPCV Non-Competitive certificate, they will receive notifications from hiring managers for open positions. To view the new announcement, please use the following link: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/558485000
- The Office of Personnel Management is hosting a series of webinars for Peace Corps on federal resumes and using USAJobs. Schedule and information are attached to this email.
- Encourage RPCVs with NCE to add themselves to this list by April 9thfor some upcoming vacancy announcements.
Evacuated PCV experience: Madeline McGrath was a community development volunteer in Moldova and was in her 3rd year of service when she was evacuated with 80 other volunteers who were also serving in Moldova. She shared her experience of having to leave in a matter of days after working with five different organizations and having to close down four different Peace Corps grants. Among her projects, she worked with a youth center, started an animal shelter and started a project that provides professional training support for victims of domestic violence. Many of these projects were using grants, but unfortunately, it is unknown what will happen to these projects now that the grants have ended because of the evacuation. Maddie plans to start graduate school at the University of Sussex in the fall, depending on the status of the current coronavirus crisis. She talked more about the needs of the other evacuated Peace Corps volunteers (EPCVs) and what this group can do to support all EPCVs such as highlighting job opportunities in the current difficult market, housing challenges and social support.
Discussion: ideas for immediate support that RPCV’s of NENY members can provide to area returnees:
- EPCV support from NPCA: https://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/cpages/support-4-evacuatedrpcvs , Activating your free “Global Reentry” NPCA Membership as an evacuees (EPCV): https://support.peacecorpsconnect.org/info and Returned Peace Corps COVID-19 Evacuation Support [Community-Generated]: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PeaceCorpsCOVIDevacuationsupport/
- Here is some information on jobs that was discussed:
- Census: https://www.census.gov/about/regions/new-york/jobs/new-york.html?fbclid=IwAR0LYaoxkS9Plgf5ze7e1IDmzNx3dTrpptu3RFVsR8QS4u9PS4_d5GG3goM , https://www.ny.gov/programs/2020-census?fbclid=IwAR1vHvvb9poxtwcWFc2fg5TFwQBYnyMapFqKfWKBJ8UDKlMjQA9HOZDLO3g
- USA Jobs, on applying NCE: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/558485000
- FEMA: https://www.usajobs.gov/Search/?k=FEMA
- Unemployment benefits- it is unclear if unemployment is available for EPCVs but the NPCA is looking into it
- There was discussion on graduate school programs and information given by faculty and staff from University at Albany (SUNY)
- UAlbany Peace Corps Prep Program
- Link to list of 20 Coverdell Fellows Programs in New York State: https://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/university-programs/graduate-school-partners/?states=39
- CUNY Lehman Peace Corps Prep Coordinator also good resource
- NPCA Benevolence Fund- group decided to ask members to donate to this fund by giving donation to our group and then RPCVs of NENY will submit the funds and match the donations up to $500. We will send out instructions soon for how to get these donations to our Treasurer, Anthony Swingruber.
Other announcements and discussion:
- Unfortunately, we did hear that one of members on the call is recovering slowly from the coronavirus. We gave her words of support especially since her mom is in the hospital. Renée has contact information if anyone would like to reach out to her.
- NPCA and RPCVs of NENY dues
- Peace Corps Connect Conference in Seattle has been cancelled
- Next meeting might be another virtual meeting/all future events are postponed
- Depending on the circumstance in May, we will probably have another virtual meeting. But if other EPCVs reach out to us, we may have a virtual meeting at the end of April so that we can connect with them.