Updated: May 17, 2019
Lemons to Lemonade – RPCV Global Village
After 7 wonderful years with the Peace Corps, as a PCV, PCVC and PCRV, the recent change in Peace Corps medical standards has disqualified me from further PC service. While personally disappointing, it opened my mind to other options. What has emerged from the neural net sprang from the thought that there is a deep well of Returned Peace Corps volunteers, who all have training and experience, technical and language skills that could be applied right here in parts of the US.
The ultimate grand scheme is for a facility where RPCVs would come for a service “vacation” and use their skills to serve under-served and needy populations, with guidance from a core of permanent residents and would showcase sustainable agriculture and renewable energy. Maybe even a network of such centers around the country. After consulting with my Peace Corps and non-profit gurus, the following plan has emerged (see below), with incremental steps to that goal.
I am now in Phase 1 – doing my Community Diagnostic and gauging interest from the RPCV community. The response so far has been encouraging, with 64% of 65 respondents interested or very interested and another 25% maybes. Extrapolating that to the 230,000 total RPCVs, that equals a potential 62,000 RPCVs who might serve in the program.
Phase 2 will look like this : I’ll publish a list of dates ( probably this summer) for various programs during January to April of 2020 – HIV prevention, general hygiene, handwashing, teaching English, youth camps, environmental awareness, community gardens, and more. RPCVs can sign up to spaces available for 1 or 2 weeks (or longer). RPCVs will pay their own airfare (or drive) to Fort Myers, FL (RSW). From there they will be housed together with other RPCVs and fed and transported to service sites. Complete instructions, program outlines and lesson plans, cooperating agencies, names, etc will be send in advance and RPCVs can modify them to suit their experience. During free time, they will be free to explore the Glades area – hiking, parks, bass fishing, etc – and enjoy the sunshine. Unlike regular PC service, no CD, no buses, no living with host family and no diarrhea.
Phase 3 will establish a permanent facility where volunteers will live and eat together, as well as a cluster of tiny homes for long-term and permanent residents. This will largely depend on the success of Phase 2. Ultimately, the program could be copied in other parts of the US.
If you have not already completed the survey, please go to the link at the end.
RPCV GLOBAL VILLAGE
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers serving in the USA – Bringing overseas experience home
Mission: To provide a means whereby Returned Peace Corps Volunteers can continue to use their acquired service skills in the US to provide needed services in rural Florida, as well as provide community for RPCVs and a demonstration platform for green and renewable technologies.
Executive Summary: Peace Corps volunteers gain unique skills during their service, in areas such as HIV prevention, general health care, sustainable agriculture, teaching English, water & sanitation, gender equality and youth development, as well as fluency in a foreign language. These skills can be put to use in the rural areas of South Florida, with its population of under-served immigrant farm worker families and high HIV rate. It would also provide an opportunity for continued community and service within the Peace Corps “family” of RPCVs.
Programs: Ongoing programs in Teaching English, HIV prevention, Hygiene, Gender equality, sustainable agriculture, water and sanitation, etc. take place at the facility or in local schools or in farmworker camps. Youth development camps would take place periodically. Some programs would be in cooperation with local and regional NGOs and schools. The target group of beneficiaries is the large immigrant farm worker population of the Glades agricultural area, along with others in these under-served rural areas.
Volunteers: RPCVs and other community volunteers would be able to fly in to SW Florida and be housed and fed on site short-term ( 1 week to 1 month) for no or low cost for a working service vacation, with a future option to buy or rent into long-term residence, while providing service to the facility operation and outreach service to the surrounding communities. Recently returned volunteers might use the facility to help transition back to civilian life. Transportation to/from the airport and local sites would be provided. Free time would include hikes, bass fishing on Lake Okeechobee, visits to nearby parks and enjoying the SW Florida weather and beaches.
Phase 1 – Exploratory
Establish and register a Florida non-profit corporation and bank account, set-up social media and website, poll RPCVs for interest, meet with established aid agencies and farm workers to evaluate need and fiscal sponsorship. Funding for travel and expenses from private sources. Estimate $1000 for 4 month exploratory. DONE !!
Phase 2 – Proof of Concept
Establish service opportunities, RPCVs will be housed and fed, with van provided for transport to/from airport and service locations. RPCVs would fly to Fort Myers, FL (at their expense) for 1 or 2 weeks (or more) pre-established service programs. Programs in HIV prevention, general hygiene, teaching English, youth development, gender equality, environment and water/sanitation in cooperation with local aid agencies, as determined by Phase 1 results. Funding from tax-deductible contributions via a fiscal sponsor. 16 weeks of programs with 14 RPCVs each program @$2575 per week = $41,200 over 6 to 12 months.
Phase 3 – RPCV Global Village facility
A permanent living facility would be built in Hendry County or eastern Lee County, Florida. This rural area has relatively low land costs, excellent weather and a large population of immigrant farm workers. The facility would consist of tiny homes, motel-type rooms and dormitories, with training rooms, recreation/crafts, communal food service, farm, aquaculture and garden. Renewable energy and green technology would be featured and would serve as a hands-on educational and training facility. Structures would be functional, safe and clean, but Spartan, as RPCVs are able to live with minimal creature comfort. Funding: The initial land purchase and construction would be from private and crowd sourced donations and possibly a partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Continued operations funded by an endowment, resident buy-ins, rents and/or grants, with a possibility of tour or product sales revenue. Capital funding needed would be in the range of:
Land 5 -10 acres 50-100K
Infrastructure (roads, drainage, septic, pond) 50K
Buildings (dorm, lodge, utility, 3 tiny houses) 8100sf @ $30 243K
Equipment (kitchen, beds, furniture) 60K
Vehicles (truck, van, tractor) 20K
Total $ 473,000
Project Coordinator: As an RPCV after 7 years of water & sanitation and renewable energy service in Peru and Panama, Greg Plimpton is uniquely qualified to lead this project, using his experience as a retired lawyer, building and maintenance contractor and land developer along with his passion for service, teaching, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and Peace Corps volunteers.
Please take the 3 minute surveys at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WK9RHF8