Action Against Racial Injustice

Click here to view the statement from the National Peace Corps Association regarding recent events and the importance of supporting racial and social justice.

Recently, some RPCVs of NENY members joined other leaders of RPCV groups from across the U.S. to discuss how RPCVs can take action against racial injustice. Below are some ideas and options that were shared. RPCVs have a history of being active on issues related to environment, health, social justice, and peace. These opportunities below are for members of RPCVs of NENY to express their views on this crisis.

  • Racial Injustice Action: Here is a platform through which you can reach out to your members of Congress to demand fundamental reform. The NPCA is providing minimal introductory language to this message (which you can edit), to allow you to tell your story, fully express your personal frustration, outrage, or anger, and offer suggestions for progressive change.  Click here to take action.
  • Submit an Op Ed to your local newspaper.
  • Click here to see “Resources for Accountability and Actions for Black Lives”.
  • Tentative July 18, 2020 Online Community Summit
    • This replaces the 2020 cancelled Peace Corps Connect originally scheduled to be hosted by Seattle RPCVs.
    • Let NPCA know if you have program ideas that might appeal to a national audience, including advocacy.
    • Addressing systemic racism and the Peace Corps will be one of the key issues discussed at the NPCA virtual summit on July 18, “Peace Corps Connect for the Future.”

Virtual RPCV Panel for College Students

On March 14, 2020, members of RPCVs of NENY participated on a Virtual RPCV Panel for Union College students. The panel was moderated by Abbey Knickerbocker, Peace Corps Recruiter for Upper New York and Western MA/CT and RPCV (Dominican Republic).

There were 17 participants in the Zoom call including the RPCVs on the panel who were:

Tom Ferris (Tanzania; 2014-2016)
Madeline McGrath (Moldova; 2017-2020; EPCV)
David Gittelman (Zaire (DR Congo); 1982-1984)
Renée St. Jacques (Cameroon; 2014-2016)
Toni Batha (Namibia; 2017-2019)
The RPCVs talked about their Peace Corps service and answered the students’ questions.

Click here to view the recording of the panel discussion.

RPCVs of NENY Donate Over $1,000 to NPCA Benevolent Fund

Thanks to the members of RPCVs of NENY who donated! We raised $640 so that means with the contribution of $500 from the group account, we will be donating a total of $1,140 to the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) Benevolent Fund! This fund assists members of the Peace Corps community who are overcoming acute hardship, including health issues related to their Peace Corps service, and connects them to resources to help navigate a road to recovery. This is an important support system for those Peace Corps volunteers who were just evacuated from their countries of service because of COVID-19. If you would like to still donate, go to

RPCVs of NENY Virtual Meeting Notes

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.

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 –
  • Primary information source for evacuees can be found at –
  • Please have evacuees interested in re-instating/re-enrolling email me at
  • 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:
  • 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:

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.

Ways to Help Recently Evacuated PCVs

  •  Click here for a website where the NPCA has information for returning PCVs. There is a Facebook page link on that website where RPCVs can connect with the evacuated PCVs. Our notice will also be posted on the Facebook page. Also, here is another website with information from Peace Corps.
  • NPCA has a Benevolent Fund that assists members of the Peace Corps community who are overcoming acute hardship, including health issues related to their Peace Corps service and housing, and connects them to resources to help find solutions. Click here to donate. One idea to discuss at our virtual meeting is for our group to match the funds donated by our members, or we can just donate a set amount. Other ideas welcome!
  • NPCA is already encouraging advocacy efforts to support the returnees AND to ensure that Peace Corps will continue to operate once the pandemic has passed.  Click here for more information and to advocate!

Notice to Recently Evacuated PCVs Returning to Upstate NY

To all the Peace Corps volunteers who are being evacuated to northeastern New York due to COVID-19: we welcome you to reach out to a community eager to support you in your transition home—the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Northeastern New York (RPCVs of NENY).

We know that it can be emotionally stressful to return to the United States, especially when your service ends abruptly without time even for goodbyes. Please reach out to us at or through our Facebook page.

Please join our virtual meeting through Zoom on Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at 7 p.m. EST, focusing on the recent evacuation of PCVs and how our community can help. This is will an ideal opportunity to introduce yourself to our group, share about your recent service, and tell us about your current plans and needs. Members of our group may know regional and local resources and could advise you on your next steps. See below for information on how to join the Zoom meeting.

Again, please reach out to our group! We are here for you! All the best, Renée St. Jacques, President, RPCVs of NENY (Cameroon PCV 2014-2016)

Here is your Zoom meeting information for March 31 at 7 pm ET for two hours. Please use the link below to check-in at the time of your meeting:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 228 218 670

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