Peace Corps Fundraiser Lunch

by Danny Zawacki

I did it finally, I took the leap. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how I was planing on getting more involved in the RPCV community around where I live and this past Saturday, I took the next step. This past weekend I went to the Spring Peace Corps Fundraiser lunch hosted by the Milwaukee Peace Corps Association. It was fantastic and I fell silly for worry about meeting people and trying to fit in.

The lunch was to raise money to support projects for current volunteers. These projects focused on volunteers in Latin America. Half of the funds raised went to support a volunteer whose father came to the lunch to promote his project. This volunteer wanted to build a volleyball court and soccer field to bring his community closer with a shared space for sporting events. For the other half of the money, we voted on one of three projects to support. One project wanted to create a collective of family gardens. This project was the one we voted to give the remaining money to. The second project sought to fund entrepreneurial women of the community by buying solar panels to help power a community space which would offer services to the women. The last project sought to create a camp for boys to learn to respect other people regardless of race, gender, anything out of the ordinary (personally, I thought this was the least worthy of our funds as it seemed to be more of a response to Camp GLOW which teaches girls to be leaders than a solid idea for a camp).

But the fundraising part was only a small aspect of what made the lunch so enjoyable for me. The best part of it was that I got to connect with other volunteers. By chance, I sat down by a group of volunteers who hadn’t been to any MPCA events before and all were recently returned (compared to many of the attendees). We had a great time trading horror stories and successes. We all seemed to gripe about the job search when we got back and how we felt far from ready for it. I met Laura from Kazakstan as a TEFL volunteer (she learned Russian but seemed rather hesitant to speak it with me). She had been back for three years and now works in the area in business development for a car dealership. Then there was Laura who had just gotten home in December. She served in Vanuatu as a TEFL volunteer and is currently struggling to find a job. I think she was in similar shoes as me in nervousness as she brought her sister for moral support. Then there was Mira. I didn’t catch when Mira served, but I know she served in Zambia as a community health and education volunteer. She brought her parents to the Peace Corps fundraiser lunch and they were very nice. Mira works for a non-profit, Healthcare for the Homeless.

I already signed up to take part in the next event, NAMI Walk, in May. I like that if I go full steam on this, it doesn’t mean much more than one or two monthly commitments. It’s the perfect group to fit into my schedule and make me feel like I’m doing what I really want to do again.