Annual Report for 2010 – Activities and Achievements

LGBT RPCVs’ Annual Report for 2010 – Activities and Achievements

This report of our activities and achievements during 2010 has been submitted to the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) as part of our reaffiliation with that organization for 2011.

Mentoring Program: Since 1994 LGBT RPCVs has managed a (now) electronically based Mentoring Program. LGBT applicants, nominees, trainees and people just interested in joining Peace Corps connect with our Mentor Program on the Mentor page of our website (www.lgbrpcv.org). We provide specific directions on readings from our website and instructions on how to direct questions and concerns to almost 600 people who post on our listserv. This continues to work well with dozens of requests for information and support this last year. Concerns are usually about homophobia and anti-gay discrimination in host countries, but also can focus on the more mundane. A recent post wanted to know about network capabilities and Wi-Fi connections in particular countries for Kindles, cell phones, lap tops and other electronic devices. Sometimes responses are limited, but on occasion advice and ideas come from a dozen or more respondents. We would be happy to share the way our Mentor Program works with other NPCA affiliates. It would work particularly well with Country of Service groups.

Supporting Peace Corps at LGBT Related Recruiting and Information Events: During 2010 LGBT RPCVs assisted regional Peace Corps offices and Headquarters staff at several recruiting and/or informational LGBT related events around the country. This involved a printed package of materials. We also assisted in locating LGBT RPCVs to help staff at recruiting and information tables (most notably Gay Pride events in the summer and fall of 2010) to answer questions and provide support for Peace Corps staff. We have assisted in supporting and communicating about Peace Corps webinars and other smaller scale events.

In 2010 we were also active in advising and supporting Peace Corps about the acceptance and security needs of transgender applicants and possibly same-sex couples in the future.

Financial Management: Since the beginning of 2008 we no longer require membership fees. We continue to receive a “rebate” ($15 per person) from NPCA for members who identify us as their NPCA affiliate. 50 NPCA members joined or renewed during 2010 naming us as their affiliate. We include in our membership anyone who was a paying member in the last five years and anyone who has joined us electronically since we changed our membership fee policy. Our operating expenses are now less than $300 a year. We now measure our membership at about 350. We have lost track of some members because of (now) invalid email addresses.

Local Groups: Over the years LGBT RPCVs has had local groups around the country: San Francisco, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston (New England), and New York City area. Currently the San Francisco and Washington DC groups are active. A smaller New York group maintains a listserv but appears inactive.

Grants and Contributions: In 2010 LGBT RPCVs made a grant of $920 to print 1000 copies of a Romanian language brochure on “coming out” to ACCEPT, a Romanian human/gay rights organization. Many Romanian PCVs have volunteered for this respected organization over the years. A then (last summer) current PCV bird dogged this project seeing it through completion.

Communications: LGBT RPCVs administers a listserv with almost 600 participants. It is an integral component of our Mentor Program, and we use it to communicate international news related to LGBT issues in the developing world, with special emphasis on what’s going on in countries where Peace Corps has programs. We also send our enewsletter out on the listserv. The listerv is open to anyone, though our monitor does check the first message send out by new participants to head off inappropriate messages (such as those we identify as homophobic or exploitive). We do not consider all participants on our listserv members. Usually we only have email addresses and no other information

Our newsletter has been published several times a year since 1993. In 2008 we converted to an all-electronic format, saving us about $2000 a year. This allowed us to stop collecting membership fees and getting our message and services out there, not concentrating on the dollars needed to fund our operating expenses.

We receive a monthly Google Analytics reports that identifies how and how many people come to our website. We have links to our site from many, many places.

In the summer of 2010 John Finn, our membership coordinator and Mike Learned, group leader recorded a Story Corps presentation about the 20 year evolution of LGBT RPCVs. Our 20th anniversary comes this year, same year as PC’s 50th.

Counseling and Advice: LGBT applicants, nominees and current volunteers contact us to help resolve issues with Peace Corps, usually related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. We provide relevant information, advice and resources. Our aim is to resolve problem issues within the context of Peace Corps’ non-discriminatory, equal employment and volunteer security policies.

You can contact Mike Learned at learned_mike@yahoo.com

About LGBT RPCV
We are an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and others who are Peace Corps volunteer alumni, current volunteers, former and current staff members and friends. Founded in Washington D.C. in 1991, we have several hundred members throughout the country and around the world who have served in Peace Corps since its beginning in 1961. We're made up of a national steering committee, together with regional chapters. We are an active affiliate member of the National Peace Corps Association.

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