January 10, 2005: Headlines: COS - St. Lucia: Older Volunteers: WVEC: Katie Zawacki and her husband John, 69, started their journey to St. Lucia to begin a tour with the Peace Corps that will last two years and three months

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Saint Lucia: Peace Corps Saint Lucia : The Peace Corps in Saint Lucia: January 10, 2005: Headlines: COS - St. Lucia: Older Volunteers: WVEC: Katie Zawacki and her husband John, 69, started their journey to St. Lucia to begin a tour with the Peace Corps that will last two years and three months

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-13-244.balt.east.verizon.net - on Saturday, January 15, 2005 - 12:24 pm: Edit Post

Katie Zawacki and her husband John, 69, started their journey to St. Lucia to begin a tour with the Peace Corps that will last two years and three months

Katie Zawacki and her husband John, 69, started their journey to St. Lucia to begin a tour with the Peace Corps that will last two years and three months

Katie Zawacki and her husband John, 69, started their journey to St. Lucia to begin a tour with the Peace Corps that will last two years and three months

Retired Roanoke County couple joins Peace Corps


By SUZANNE WARDLE / Associated Press

ROANOKE, Va. Papers, boxes and knickknacks cluttered the Zawackis' temporary living quarters at Sunscape Apartments in Roanoke County. A folding table stood behind the futon and a wooden stool looked out of place beside three green plastic chairs.

"My daughter said to her husband, 'My parents are living like college students,' " said 59-year-old Katie Zawacki.

That changed in early January, when Zawacki and her husband John, 69, started their journey to St. Lucia to begin a tour with the Peace Corps that will last two years and three months.

"We're going for an adventure, to live in another country again," Katie Zawacki said. "We were looking for something to do. John had just retired and we didn't want to stay here forever."

Although they have lived in the Roanoke Valley for 32 years, the Zawackis are no strangers to the rest of the world. They lived in South Africa during apartheid, had a son in Holland, spent about a year living in a Spanish villa and have fond memories of their time in the south of France. Two years ago, they volunteered for the Peace Corps and prepared to travel again.

"We both have years of experience and skill," John Zawacki said. "Our wisdom, patience and tolerance are assets to the Peace Corps."

The Zawackis bring other assets too: skills they learned at their jobs. Katie worked more than 14 years at Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare as a prevention specialist and John was an electrical engineer at General Electric for 34 years. Katie said she would like to work with young children again while John said he hoped he could help people in the eastern Caribbean with the more technical aspects of life.

Although they are going to the eastern Caribbean, the Zawackis do not yet know their exact destination. According to Peace Corps spokeswoman Sara Johnston, finding a country in need of such different skills can be hard.

"We need to find meaningful work for both," Johnston said, adding the organization usually sends couples to urban areas. She said the organization does not separate married couples because they can support each other.

Although only 6 percent of the 7,733 Peace Corps volunteers are older than 50, Johnston said the organization encourages older people to volunteer.

"Cultures respect older people," she said. "Gray hair is a good thing."

Friends of the Zawackis were not surprised by the couple's decision to volunteer.

"Their age in no way indicates how they're young at heart and how compassionate their hearts are," said Debbie Kaplan, a pastoral counselor who met and befriended Katie Zawacki when the two worked at a Roanoke County elementary school. "These are people you just want your children exposed to."

Virginia Hardin, the prevention director for Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare and Katie's former boss, said she thought it was the "perfect next step" for the couple.

But according to the Zawackis, not everyone they knew understood why they wanted to leave the comfort of the United States. John Zawacki said people pointed out that he and his wife would not be able to drive a car or go to concerts.

"They expressed everything from admiration to, 'Why are you doing this? You won't be able to drink any good beer,' " John said.

While the two realize they will lack certain amenities, there are certain aspects of the United States they will not miss.

"One thing I won't miss is the consumerism of this country," Katie said. "Christmas just about does me in with this buy, buy, buy."

This may be one reason the Zawackis did not decide to sell, sell, sell. Furniture their five children did not take is being donated to Refugee and Immigration Services and the Zawackis rented a storage unit for the 51 boxes of items they are not taking with them. They are allowed to take 80 pounds of luggage with them for two years and have packed clothing, sleeping bags and a coffee press as well as smaller items the Peace Corps said are necessary, such as Ziploc bags and a Swiss Army knife.

The couple said they hope their children will visit them in the eastern Caribbean. Although they receive 24 days' leave per year, John said they will not vacation in the United States. Katie said she is looking forward to spending her leave exploring that area of the world.

Although the couple said they will miss Roanoke and the mountains, they are not sure if they will return to Roanoke after their time abroad. Katie said they might move to Hawaii, citing warmer climes.

"Travel has been my very favorite thing to do," Katie said. "When I was 10 years old, I had money for my birthday and went to the five-and-dime and bought a suitcase. It's like I was destined to travel."


Information from: The Roanoke Times

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.

January 8, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: January 8 2005 No: 367 January 8, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Zambia RPCV Karla Berg interviews 1,374 people on Peace 7 Jan
Breaking Taboo, Mandela Says Son Died of AIDS 6 Jan
Dreadlocked PCV raises eyebrows in Africa 6 Jan
RPCV Jose Ravano directs CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka 6 Jan
Persuading Retiring Baby Boomers to Volunteer 6 Jan
Inventor of "Drown Proofing" retires 6 Jan
NPCA Membership approves Board Changes 5 Jan
Timothy Shriver announces "Rebuild Hope Fund" 5 Jan
More Water Bottles, Fewer Bullets 4 Jan
Poland RPCV Rebecca Parker runs Solterra Books 2 Jan
Peace Corps Fund plans event for September 30 Dec
RPCV Carmen Bailey recounts bout with cerebral malaria 28 Dec
more top stories...

RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?
The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.
Changing of the Guard Date: December 15 2004 No: 330 Changing of the Guard
With Lloyd Pierson's departure, Marie Wheat has been named acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps. Although Wheat is not an RPCV and has limited overseas experience, in her two years at the agency she has come to be respected as someone with good political skills who listens and delegates authority and we wish her the best in her new position.
Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."
RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack
RPCV Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia survived Monday's attack on the consulate without injury. Five consular employees and four others were killed. Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first woman to hold the position, has been an outspoken advocate of rights for Arab women and has met with Saudi reformers despite efforts by Saudi leaders to block the discussions.
Is Gaddi Leaving? Is Gaddi Leaving?
Rumors are swirling that Peace Corps Director Vasquez may be leaving the administration. We think Director Vasquez has been doing a good job and if he decides to stay to the end of the administration, he could possibly have the same sort of impact as a Loret Ruppe Miller. If Vasquez has decided to leave, then Bob Taft, Peter McPherson, Chris Shays, or Jody Olsen would be good candidates to run the agency. Latest: For the record, Peace Corps has no comment on the rumors.
The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: WVEC

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - St. Lucia; Older Volunteers



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.