The Background Story: How Partnering for Peace Came to Be

Dear Fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Fellow Rotarians,

Over five years ago, a few of us Rotarians gathered at the Rotary District 5450 Annual Conference and since we were all RPCVs naturally, we were meeting next to the bar during the reception hour. We had a fairly large group and that is when we realized that Peace Corps and Rotary had a lot in common (besides gathering at the bar). The strategic plans were so similar that you could have taken Rotary out and inserted Peace Corps and vice versa. Rotary’s Six Areas of Focus are very similar to Peace Corps’ program priorities. Rotary service is a natural continuation of service that Sargent Shriver and other Peace Corps leaders hoped that RPCVs would continue upon their return from service.

Our group in District 5450 continued to meet at Chairperson Sue Fox’s home and we developed a strategy that eventually led to a formal MOU and partnership between Peace Corps and Rotary. We were fortunate that Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet came from a Rotary “family” since many family members were Rotarians. General Secretary John Hewko knew a lot about Peace Corps and he knew Carrie so he was very interested in this partnership. A sad footnote to this story is that soon after the MOU was signed, Sue Fox passed away from cancer and we still miss her. We knew that the hard part was ahead of us, since the partnership wouldn’t reach its full potential unless we educated Rotarians, PCVs, RPCVs, Peace Corps staff and other friends about the benefits of good programs that PCVs and Rotarians could do together, how both agencies could increase membership (Rotary) and volunteers (Peace Corps), and how this partnership is embraced by everyone. In order to promote the partnership, we decided to create an affiliate group under the National Peace Corps Association, hence the creation of Partnering for Peace: Friends of Peace Corps and Rotary. We invite you to join if you haven’t already and we invite you to help with promoting the partnership or joining a PFP committee if you are a member. Just to be transparent, your annual dues of $20 helps us have a small fund to put up a website, market PFP and to pay for small items when we have an opportunity to attend a Peace Corps or Rotary gathering. Board members donate their time and we have few on-going expenses.

Finally, I want to thank our board of directors because everyone is involved and committed to this partnership. I also want to thank our staff liaisons from Peace Corps, Rotary and the National Peace Corps Association. Again, please let us know if you are interested in serving on the PFP board of directors or helping with one of our committees or if you have an exciting project that Rotarians and Peace Corps volunteers or RPCVs are doing together. We have a “tool kit” and database that is showing everyone how this partnership is growing and how natural it is for Peace Corps and Rotary to work together. Please let me hear from you by writing to info@partneringforpeace.org. Thank you.

Steve Werner

President, Partnering for Peace