2006.07.11: July 11, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ecuador: Older Volunteers: Statesman Journal: As Joyne Elder nears her 60th birthday, she will fulfill a dream and put on a new hat as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ecuador: Peace Corps Ecuador : The Peace Corps in Ecuador: 2006.07.11: July 11, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ecuador: Older Volunteers: Statesman Journal: As Joyne Elder nears her 60th birthday, she will fulfill a dream and put on a new hat as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador

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As Joyne Elder nears her 60th birthday, she will fulfill a dream and put on a new hat as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador

As Joyne Elder nears her 60th birthday, she will fulfill a dream and put on a new hat as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador

Elder said that although her family will miss her, they are happy for her. Her daughters are grown, she said, and her 88-year-old mother is happy that she will be following in the footsteps of her brother, Gary Gardner, who was in Ethiopia with the Peace Corps in the mid-1960s.

As Joyne Elder nears her 60th birthday, she will fulfill a dream and put on a new hat as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador

Peace Corps offers a journey for two South Salem residents

BY RACHEL HELLESTO
Statesman Journal

July 11, 2006

Joyce Elder has worn many hats as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, teacher and nurse. Now, as the South Salem resident nears her 60th birthday, she will fulfill a dream and put on a new hat as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador.

"I always wanted to do some volunteer outreach in another country," she said, but because she married and had children soon after college, she was not afforded the opportunity.

Elder will become part of the 6 percent of Peace Corps volunteers who are older than 50.

"It's just a perfect time in my life to do this," Elder said.

After graduating from Trinity University in San Antonio with degrees in Spanish and Spanish literature, she taught Spanish classes in a San Antonio junior high school. Elder became involved in Lamaze childbirth after the birth of her two daughters, and she went back to school to become a registered nurse. She became a nurse practitioner, working in both a public clinic and her own private practice.

That was more than 21 years ago. She has lived and worked in Salem for almost 20 of those years, and now she is ready to leave Salem to use the skills that she has learned as a nurse -- and do whatever else might be asked of her -- in a rural area of Ecuador.

Typically, volunteers don't get to pick the nation they go to, but because Elder was older and had Spanish and health-care experience, she fit the bill for a health-promotion position open in Ecuador and was able to go to the country she requested.

"I wasn't ready to learn a new language at this point in my life," she said.

Elder will be working on health issues with mothers, children and babies, teaching "natural family planning" and some natural health.

"I did six years at the health department," Elder said, "so it's up my alley."

She said that although she has been given an idea of what her job will be, a lot of what volunteers do is self-driven and can depend on what a volunteer's skills and interests are, as well as the specific needs in the community at the time.

Elder said that although her family will miss her, they are happy for her. Her daughters are grown, she said, and her 88-year-old mother is happy that she will be following in the footsteps of her brother, Gary Gardner, who was in Ethiopia with the Peace Corps in the mid-1960s.

"Everyone I have talked to who has been in the Peace Corps has given me glowing reports," Elder said.

Bob Arias, 65, of South Salem gives the experience positive marks. He served in Colombia when he was 25 and returned to the Peace Corps in 1995 as a country director in Argentina and Uruguay at age 54. He coordinated a Peace Corps security and safety report in 2002.

Although most Peace Corps volunteers do not return to the organization after their two-year commitments, Arias said that the Peace Corps experience stays with a person.

"The ability to care [that is learned through volunteering] never leaves you," he said.

The mix between benefits for the volunteer and benefits for the community in which they work is one of the features that makes volunteering appealing to so many. Arias emphasized the impact that volunteering can have on a person.

"You have that fire in your belly because you can make a difference," he said.

Besides making a difference, Elder is excited about the places she can go during her vacation time.

"I'm going to go to the Galapagos (off the coast of Ecuador) and Machu Picchu (in Peru)," places that have been on her "life to-do list," she said.

Although volunteers get a minimal amount of money in return for their services, the benefits seem to be beyond any financial gain.

"Not only are you giving something back, but you know that you've done something and you know it's something right," Arias said about his experience with the Peace Corps.

For these dedicated and passionate volunteers, any hardships they face are worth it.

"They told us (volunteers) to 'please bring a sense of humor, adaptability and flexibility,'" Elder said and laughed. "I fully expect to love it."

rhellest@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 589-6967





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Story Source: Statesman Journal

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