Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan to Address National Press Club Tomorrow

March 23, 1999

Washington, D.C., March 23, 1999—Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan will be the guest speaker at the National Press Club's breakfast newsmaker series tomorrow to talk about a proposed expansion of the Peace Corps and his recent trip to Central America.
Gearan will speak at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday March 24, on the 13th floor of the National Press Club, 14th and F Streets, NW. Gearan will talk about his trip two weeks ago to Central America, in which he accompanied President Clinton to view first-hand the relief efforts underway there in the wake of Hurricane Mitch. Currently, nearly 600 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in Central America, along with nearly 30 Crisis Corps volunteers. The Crisis Corps is a small program within the Peace Corps in which skilled former Peace Corps volunteers serve for up to six months to help in the recovery efforts of people in areas stressed by natural disasters or humanitarian crises. With an increased budget this year, and strong support in Congress for additional money, the Peace Corps will send more volunteers overseas this year than at any time in the last 25 years. On March 3 the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to expand the number of Peace Corps volunteers by nearly 50 percent, which would allow the agency to send the most volunteers overseas since the 1960s. The 326-90 House vote authorized an increase in the Peace Corps budget over the next four years that would boost the number of volunteers from 6,700 today to more than 10,000 in the year 2003. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote today on a companion measure sponsored by Senators Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn, the Chairman and ranking Member of the Senate authorizing subcommittee. Currently, 6,700 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 80 countries, working to bring clean water to communities, teach children, help start new small businesses, and stop the spread of AIDS. Since 1960, more than 152,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.

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