Orr, Chicago Group Recognized with Returned Volunteer Recognition Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 22, 2004 – Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez has announced the latest recipients of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Recognition Awards. The most recent honorees include a Michigan professor and his continual work to promote the Peace Corps experience at his university, as well as returned volunteers from the Chicago area who support the Peace Corps Partnership Program and promote the Peace Corps through various activities.

Individual Service Recognition Award
Blair Orr, a professor at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, received Peace Corps’ individual award for returned volunteer service for his contributions in creating educational opportunities for returned volunteers. In 1995, Orr developed the first Master’s International program at the university for the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences. He is currently the coordinator of this program and has helped initiate two other Master’s International programs at the university. In addition, Orr helped found the Fellows/USA program at the university.

As coordinator of the forestry Master’s International program, Orr offers preparation and support to his students. One returned volunteer commented, "Professor Orr is truly an incredible, tireless, and supportive advisor. He is one of the main reasons I feel my program was fulfilling, challenging, and successful."

Orr started the tradition of a monthly pizza night for returned volunteers in the area to meet current Master’s International students. These meetings have allowed returned volunteers to share their experiences with potential volunteers who are currently going through Peace Corps’ application process.

From 1978 to 1981, Orr served as a volunteer in Lesotho where he worked in agro-forestry projects. Upon his return to the U.S., he received his master’s degree in economics and his Ph.D. in forest economics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Group Service Recognition Award
The Chicago Area Peace Corps Association (CAPCA) was awarded Peace Corps’ group award for returned volunteer service. CAPCA is comprised of 400 returned Peace Corps volunteers who live and work in the Chicago area. The group has worked for 25 years raising funds to support Peace Corps Partnership projects that offer leadership and cross-cultural experiences, providing speakers to organizations interested in the Peace Corps, and participating in numerous volunteer activities. Each year, CAPCA hosts the Founder’s Day Fundraiser, which last year raised more than $4,000 to fund two Peace Corps Partnership projects by Illinois returned volunteers – Bamako Waste Management Improvement Initiative in Mali and the Computer Learning Center in Romania.

In the fall of 2003, the former CAPCA president started a new committee to connect returned volunteer to the community, specifically targeting teenagers and grade school children through workshops called, “Passport to the World.”

In addition, the group publishes a bi-monthly newsletter and helps connect returned volunteer with speakers, educators and each other. CAPCA co-hosts a yearly diversity dinner with the Peace Corps’ Chicago recruiting office. And CAPCA worked on its largest cooperative project this year with the Peace Corps’ Chicago recruiting office and the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) when members hosted the 2004 NPCA Conference for returned volunteers and friends of the Peace Corps.

"CAPCA is pleased to receive this award from the Peace Corps as recognition of our hard work over the last two years with the conference, and over the last 25 years promoting third goal activities," said Tara Janes, CAPCA president, referring to Peace Corps’ third goal of promoting a better understanding of other peoples around the world on the pars’ third goal of promoting a better understanding of other peoples around the world on the part of Americans.

Periodically, the Peace Corps and the National Peace Corps Association select an outstanding returned Peace Corps volunteer and returned volunteer group for special recognition. To see the current and recent selections, please click here.

Since 1961, more than 171,000 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 service is a two-year commitment.

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