Washington, D.C. Resident Eileen Blumenthal Honored with Peace Corps' Lillian Carter Award
The Lillian Carter Award was established by the Atlanta Regional Office of the Peace Corps in 1986. It is awarded every two years to an outstanding Peace Corps volunteer who, at the time of his or her service, was age 50 or older. The person has also demonstrated a commitment to the Peace Corps' third goal: to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. Lillian Carter joined the Peace Corps in 1966 and served for two years as a health volunteer in India. At the time of her service, she was 68 years old.
"Eileen Blumenthal is a tireless promoter of the Peace Corps and epitomizes what our volunteers pledge to do to uphold and further the goals of the Peace Corps. During her service, and still today, she embodies what the Peace Corps represents," said Director Vasquez.
Leaving a long career of public service and community involvement, Blumenthal joined the Peace Corps in 1989 at the age of 60. She served as an English teacher trainer volunteer in Nepal from September 1989 through October 1991.
When Blumenthal, now 75, was asked if the Mid-Atlantic Regional Office could nominate her as a candidate for the Lillian Carter Award, she was surprised then added, "How wonderful. Lillian Carter was an inspiration for me."
Soon after completing her Peace Corps service in 1991, Blumenthal worked with World Vision in Romania. After this, she returned to the United States, and settled in Washington, D.C. She was recast by her Peace Corps experience, and recommitted herself to public and community service. Her home became a hostel for anyone who needed a temporary home. Blumenthal's guests were invited to become involved in her church and community activities. This exposure gave her guests a myriad of venues for sharing their life stories and culture with many groups and individuals of all ages. She also allowed her home to be a gathering place for former Peace Corps volunteers to exchange stories and information about one another's country of service and differing cultures.
Blumenthal was also immersed in various volunteer and community activities, such as the Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington and as an organizer of WIN the Washington Interfaith Network. She served on the Board of Family and Child Services and supported the Honduras committee at her church.
In July 1998, Blumenthal made her first trip to Honduras with a group from her church. When Hurricane Mitch occurred shortly thereafter, Blumenthal was deeply touched by the devastation to the communities. She returned to Honduras in the fall of 1999, and met with a local priest. Building on the needs expressed by the communities, Blumenthal assembled a team of several returned Peace Corps volunteers to return to Honduras and focus on post hurricane rebuilding efforts. She financed the trip and rented an apartment for the volunteers who worked each day in Colonia a community that was being built by the Diocese of Washington to house families displaced by the hurricane. She also worked to secure the aid of Peace Corps' Crisis Corps volunteers to help in the rebuilding efforts.
Four years ago, Blumenthal founded Action for Community Transformation (ACT), a foundation that supports innovative, small, financially accountable programs in Honduras geared toward youth. Through ACT, which promotes continued cross-cultural exchange, 22 youth have received scholarships to attend secondary school, and five have already gradexchange, 22 youth have received scholarships to attend secondary school, and five have already graduated from vocational school.
Today, the Peace Corps has over 7,733 volunteers serving in 72 nations. Approximately 6 percent of Peace Corps volunteers are aged 50 or older. To find out more about Americans serving in the silver or golden years, please visit Who Volunteers?.
Since 1961, more than 178,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps is a 27-month commitment.