Peace Corps Salutes Moms and Families on Mother's Day

May 5, 1998

Peace Corps Salutes Moms and Families on Mother's Day
Washington, D.C., May 5, 1998—In a nod to that most American of institutions, motherhood, Peace Corps today recognized moms and family members who have served as Peace Corps volunteers. "Every Peace Corps volunteer has a story to tell," said Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan. "But Peace Corps families, in which multiple generations have served as volunteers overseas, clearly tell a story that resonates with other generations, inspiring their children and even grandchildren to serve." According to Gearan, today women comprise 59 percent of all volunteers, up sharply from the 1960s when less than 40 percent of all Peace Corps volunteers were women. Among Peace Corps moms celebrated by the agency on May 10: Miss Lillian Carter, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in India from 1966 to 1968, at the age of 68, is one of the agency's most famous alumni. Her great-grandson, Jason Carter, grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, has followed in his great-grandmother's footsteps and is currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa. Pearle (Hartley) Burlingame, of North Lima, Ohio, served in Cote d'Ivoire from 1962 to 1964. Ironically, her daughter Cheryl departed for Mali, West Africa 35 years to the day that her mother left for Africa. Kay (Gillies) Dixon, now of Boston and Chatham, Mass., met her husband while both were serving as Peace Corps volunteers in Colombia from 1962-64. Two of their four daughters have been Peace Corps volunteers: Karol in Nicaragua from 1993 to 1995, and Kimberly, currently a volunteer in Niger. Ginny (Pearsall) Kirkwood, who resides in Shawnee on Delaware, Penn., completed her Peace Corps service in Turkey in 1966 by traveling around with her mother. That visit, in turn, inspired mom Ruth Pearsall to join up herself, in 1973. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia. Another generation served when Ginny's niece and nephew (Ruth's grandchildren), Carrie Radelet and Craig Hendrix, were volunteers in Samoa and Thailand respectively. Ginny also served as a Peace Corps country director in Thailand in the early 1990s.
Janet Getchell served in Guatemala from 1993 to 1995, as a small animal husbandry/wildlife management volunteer, and also inspired other family members to serve. Her retired parents, Roger and Leslie Getchell, visited and realized they could be volunteers too. They served in Jamaica from 1995 to 1998, where Roger set-up a community college and Leslie worked for the health department. The senior Getchells currently live in Deer Park, Wash., and Janet is in New York City working as a Peace Corps recruiter and applying to graduate schools.
Newlyweds John and Patricia Garamendi served as Peace Corps volunteers in Ethiopia from 1966 to 1968. Lifelong Californians who now reside in Washington, D.C., two of their six children have served as Peace Corps volunteers to date: John, Jr. and his wife Colleen have spent the past two years in Paraguay, and daughter Christina in Ecuador as a health volunteer.
Today, nearly 6,500 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 83 countries, working to help fight hunger, bring clean water to communities, teach children, protect the environment, start new small businesses, and prevent the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.

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