Peace Corps Honors Americans Serving in Silver & Golden Years
May 18, 2005WASHINGTON, D.C., May 18, 2005 Today, and throughout Older Americans Month, the Peace Corps recognizes the contributions of all older Americans who have decided to delay retirement so they can better the lives of others.
"Senior Americans have come to the Peace Corps because they have extraordinary potential to give," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. "They are business and community leaders who are ready for a new challenge. From retired teachers to former military officers, they are proving they are part of the greatest generation, willing to roll up their sleeves and make the world a better place for everyone."
A Marine Corps veteran of World War II, Stanley Levine was well into retirement when he decided to become a Peace Corps volunteer. Today, the 80-year-old is teaching English and creative writing at the University of Cameroon. But, he finds it most amazing that despite feeling he had more in life to give, he is in turn learning so much. "For too many people, volunteering remains an abstraction. This is another chance to do something useful. It's another chance to make a difference in the world," said Levine.
Jim Price's white hair is deceptive for someone just shy of 60, but the Vietnam veteran brings a world of wisdom to the Peace Corps from his youth on a small farm in North Carolina. He is using his skills organizing an agribusiness project for rural farmers and their families in Jamaica. Price, like Levine, is also working with youth development programs. For Price, his Peace Corps service in Jamaica has become, "such an important part of my life."
Perhaps the most well known senior volunteer remains Lillian Carter, mother of former President Jimmy Carter, who 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.
Americans age 50 and older comprise 6 percent of the Peace Corps' volunteer ranks a percentage that has risen from 1 percent of the volunteer population in the 1960s. Some of these volunteers have served multiple tours of service and volunteer well into their 80s; with the oldest volunteer being 86 when he completed service. To learn more about Americans who have chosen to serve in the Peace Corps in their 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 service is a 27-month commitment.