Peace Corps Volunteers Life, Work Honored in New Memorial Fun

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 4, 2003 – In honor of a former Peace Corps volunteer’s life and work, and to celebrate the recent birth of his nephew, the family of Patrick J. Cunningham has established a memorial fund to carry on Patrick’s work and dedication to the Peace Corps.

Patrick J. Cunningham served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sri Lanka from 1991 to 1993. As a Small Business Development volunteer, Patrick created a community income-generating project by setting up a rice mill with the 15 poorest members of the village. Last reported, the rice mill continues to operate and benefit area farmers. Following his time in Sri Lanka, Patrick returned to the United States and used his Peace Corps experiences to embark on careers in international and business development. In January 2003, Patrick was tragically killed in an automobile accident on his way from Cincinnati to Indianapolis.
photo of Patrick with his village neighbors in Sri Lanka
Patrick J. Cunningham was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sri Lanka from 1991-1993. He is pictured with his village neighbors during his service.

As a way to remember his contributions and his love for the Peace Corps, Patrick’s sister, Colleen Gabriel, wanted to establish a fund to carry on his dedication to small business development. She and her husband have established a memorial fund in Patrick’s name at the Peace Corps to honor him and to coincide with the arrival of the Gabriel’s second child. In addition, Colleen and husband Robert have named their baby Jonah Patrick, born Friday, August 1st, weighing 8 pounds, 14.5 ounces, and measuring 21.75 inches.

photo of Jonah Patrick
Jonah Patrick is named in honor of his uncle, Patrick J. Cunningham, a former returned Peace Corps volunteer. Jonah Patrick was born on August 1, 2003.

Colleen was also a Peace Corps volunteer, serving in Paraguay from 1994 to 1996. Her husband, Robert, is the Peace Corps Administrative Officer in Tanzania. Robert, who served with Patrick in Sri Lanka, was introduced to Colleen through their friendship.

“We are thankful that Peace Corps was able to play such a significant role in Patrick’s life and thus, bring my husband and me together. Patrick will live in the hearts and souls of our children, and he will be missed dearly,” Colleen said.

“The arrival of a baby is celebration enough for most couples. But for Colleen and Robert, the birth of their second child is also the perfect time to honor Patrick’s life and work,” Director Gaddi H. Vasquez stated. “The dedication and commitment this family has already shown to the Peace Corps, and to the countries and communities in which they served, is truly immeasurable. The new fund is a tremendous tribute to Patrick and a fine way to celebrate Jonah Patrick’s new life.”

In lieu of baby gifts, the family is encouraging friends, relatives, and all interested to donate to the new memorial fund as a way to remember and honor his service. Checks may be sent to the Peace Corps Partnership Program, Patrick J. Cunningham Fund, 1111 20th Street, Washington, DC 20526. Phone donations can be made by calling (202)-692-2170 or toll-free, 1-800-424-8580, extension 2170.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, infce Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, 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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