June 22, 2002 - Green Bay Press-Gazette: Volunteer keeps torch burning for Peace Corps

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Volunteer keeps torch burning for Peace Corps

Read and comment on this column by Tom Perry from the Green Bay Press-Gazette on Darlene Fellows and the Peace Corps 40th plus one at:

Tom Perry column: Volunteer keeps torch burning for Peace Corps*

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Tom Perry column: Volunteer keeps torch burning for Peace Corps

Hundreds of former Peace Corps volunteers have gathered in Washington, D.C., this weekend for the organization’s 40-year anniversary celebration.

Although she could not make it in person, Darlene Fellows of Green Bay will be there in spirit.

A retired emergency-room nurse and teacher, Fellows, now in her 60s, still carries a bright torch for the Peace Corps.

For the past three years, as an example, she has visited Darryl Johnson’s class at Trinity Catholic School in Green Bay.

She brings small gifts and talks about her experiences in Southeast Asia to Johnson’s class, which has a tradition of participating in volunteer activities around the community.

In class, the pupils are most interested in hearing about the people Fellows encountered in her travels.

The youngsters like to hear about “the language, the weather, what the people eat,’’ said Fellows, who added she hopes her talks plant a seed of interest in the Peace Corps.

Personal crusade

Decades have passed since 1962, when Fellows joined the Peace Corps, back in its early days, as a 25-year-old nurse at St. Vincent Hospital. But all these years later, she feels it is important to promote the Peace Corps in any way possible.

She’s excited that Montana State University, her alma mater, has written a story about her Peace Corps experiences for an upcoming publication.

It’s not the attention she’s getting that’s important to her; it’s the attention that good people and the Peace Corps are getting.

“There’s so much doom and gloom in the world,’’ she said. “It’s important for people to know about the good that is being done out there.’’

Sometimes, if you pay attention to the nightly news on TV, it seems there’s little else being covered other than death and destruction.

Look at the bigger picture, however, and it becomes clear that there’s plenty of positive energy out there.

Fellows has pictures of the late Mother Teresa in her home.

If ever there were a symbol of the good that people are capable of, it was Mother Teresa.

In 1964, before Mother Teresa was a household name around the world, Fellows had an opportunity to work in Calcutta at Mother Teresa’s mission.

As she always tells the pupils in Johnson’s class, she did not get to meet Mother Teresa, but the experience she gained has lasted a lifetime.

Doing the positive

Another positive occurrence, as Fellows sees it, is President Bush’s enthusiasm for volunteerism and the Peace Corps.

She was delighted, she said, that the president mentioned in his State of the Union address earlier this year that he would like to see the number of Peace Corps volunteers double in the next five years.

For the record, more than 165,000 volunteers have served in 135 countries since the Peace Corps was established, according to the organization.

That’s a lot of people trying to do something positive in a lot of places, which is important to keep in mind in a world that can seem so full of doom and gloom.

Call Tom Perry at (920) 431-8216 or e-mail him at tperry@greenbaypressgazette.com.

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