Tamulonis, Madison Group Honored with First Returned Volunteer Recognition Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 11, 2004 – Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez presented the first ever returned Peace Corps volunteer recognition awards last Thursday, honoring the work of volunteers who have advanced the third goal of Peace Corps – to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

The awards were presented at a ceremony in Chicago, which coincided with the National Peace Corps Association’s annual conference.

“Every day, volunteers across the globe bring their Peace Corps experiences to the home front, helping Americans explain the differences – and similarities – between cultures, and inspiring the next generation of Peace Corps volunteers,” said Director Vasquez. “These recognition awards were created to honor your deep commitment to the lives you continue to enrich.”

The recipient of the Peace Corps’ first individual award for returned volunteer service went to Daniel Tamulonis. After teaching English in Zaire from 1975-1979, Tamulonis came back to the Peace Corps as an associate director for education. In 1993, Daniel became the coordinator of the flagship Fellows/USA program at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he worked to create a teacher education and internship program for returned volunteers. In his 10 years with the Fellows program, Tamulonis helped expand the number of Fellows from 35 to 86. He also worked to secure financial benefits for Peace Corps Fellows through AmeriCorps and other grants, and was instrumental in receiving a $1 million endowment for the program. The endowment, established by the founder of the Dress Barn, Roslyn Jaffe, and current CEO Elliot Jaffe, has helped ensure the presence of Peace Corps Fellows in New York City schools for future generations.

In 2003, Tamulonis returned to the classroom to help found the Bronx Charter School for Better Learning. Today, he incorporates information about his Peace Corps experience into his lesson plans as a way of teaching cultural awareness and acceptance.

The recipient of the Peace Corps’ first group award for returned volunteer service went to the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Wisconsin - Madison. This group has published a calendar since 1987 with images from across the world that convey the Peace Corps experience. The calendar sales help to raise money for grassroots projects in the countries where volunteers have served. In addition, the group publishes a monthly newsletter, hosts information tables at local farmers’ markets, participates in a run for a food charity, and puts on regular social events.

The calendar has grown significantly since its founding, with nearly 40,000 calendars printed annually. Over a two year period, the group has donated $98,000 to the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which funds small-scale, sustainable development projects in countries where the Peace Corps serves. The Madison group distributes the remaining proceeds via a process in which all members can vote on the allocation of funds to deserving proposals.

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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