Ross Feezer, Mark Walker and Hal Rifken at the outset of the video project.

By Mark D. Walker, Membership Chair, Partnering for Peace

The recently formed Partnering for Peace (P4P), an affiliate of the National Peace Corps Association, brings together a group of professionals with a shared vision to promote peace by creating sustainable projects locally and around the world. The stories of how and why they joined are as diverse as the 50 members themselves.

Steve Werner, president of the group, tells how the initial vision started in Colorado, USA:

“Over five years ago, some of us Rotarians in the Denver, Colorado metro area were attending our district conference. As we looked around during the reception, we noticed a large number of returned Peace Corps volunteers. As it is common for both returned Peace Corps volunteers and Rotarians to exchange ideas while socializing, we started talking about how Rotary is a natural extension of service for anyone who had Peace Corps experience as a volunteer or staff person.”

Steve, in addition to his Rotary work in Denver and elsewhere, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Korea and later worked with Peace Corps Response in Georgia. Steve didn’t have a difficult time recruiting me to the board. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala in the early 1970s and joined Rotary over 30 years ago in Bogota, Colombia, where I was a country director for Plan International. I’m a past president of the Rotary Club of Scottsdale North and was a district community service chair for three years. All three of my children were Rotary Youth Exchange students.

As chair of the P4P membership committee, I teamed up with Ross Feezer, a returned Peace Corps volunteer from the Dominican Republic and past president of the Rotary Club of Casa Grande Breakfast, to promote the Rotary-Peace Corps partnership throughout Arizona. According to Ross, District 4060 in the Dominican Republic helped support Peace Corps volunteers working in education, bringing books to new readers. This is one of many examples of Rotary working with Peace Corps.

In August 2017, our board realized that sharing our story with others would be key to future growth. About that time, Hal Rifken, a member of the Rotary Club of Palisades in New Jersey, returned Peace Corps volunteer, and award-winning documentary maker/cameraman, agreed to film the “Gift a Book” program in Costa Rica. He went on to produce two promotional videos and then visited South Africa to film a child literacy program being implemented by Rotary and Peace Corps.

If you are a returned Peace Corps volunteer and a Rotary member, we encourage you to join Partnering for Peace. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Becoming part of a powerful international network for change
  • Receiving a quarterly e-newsletter which highlights recent collaborations between Peace Corps and Rotary clubs
  • Gaining access to the P4P list of Rotary clubs and returned Peace Corps volunteer groups committed to working together
  • Receiving information on joint projects and key contacts for assisting with or replicating one of these projects
  • Showcasing joint projects and sharing experiences on the P4P website and Facebook page
  • Receiving a Membership Tool Kit, including videos that will help you promote P4P to your Rotary club

We started 2019 with 50 members and plan to double our size over the coming year in order to attract more Rotarians and returned Peace Corps volunteers with their own special talents and visions of how to change the world. Visit our newly designed website for more details, including how to get involved.