How to Organize a Group Reunion

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By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, July 05, 2001 - 10:03 am: Edit Post

Here's a link to a great article on how the RPCVs of Liberia Group 28 organized a reunion two years ago:

How to Organize a Group Reunion

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, September 27, 2001 - 6:52 pm: Edit Post

The link is broken so here is the original article as it was emailed to us:

Thanks for sending PeaceCorps on-line. Saw your section on how to find friends and thought you might be interested in the following piece we did on our PC Liberia Group 28 reunion two years ago (our first ever, and we arrived in Liberia in 1971!). We wrote it for future reference but apparently folks organizing the 40th anniversary conference liked it and have posted it on their site:

How to Organize a Group Reunion

In the Spring of 1998, four Liberia Group 28 members and Friends of Group 28 in the Washington, D.C. area began thinking about organizing a reunion for July 1999. Over time, the group grew to about ten RPCVs who became the local planning group for the reunion. By November 1998, we began meeting about every 6-8 weeks, and organized into these committees:

Master of Ceremonies - Debbie Strode
Food - Pam Stephens, Nancy Holland
Hotel - Lynn Rotenberg
Games and Entertainment - John Peterson
Music - John Peterson and Peter Brown
Decorations - Pat Reilly and friends
Yearbook - Kevin Moriarty
Support Equipment - Monica Maxwell and Ellen Paquette
Welcoming and Greeting - Mike and Sue Landers
Communications - Don Drach and Ken Otteson
On-site picnic coordinators - Pam Stephens, Nancy Holland
Banker - Pam Stephens
The sections of this Guide generally follow the committee structure used to plan and implement the reunion. An early and smart decision was to include "Friends of Group 28" in the reunion.

The Communications Committee had two purposes:

Locate as many Group 28 members as possible, and
Serve as the communications link with everyone to publicize and coordinate plans for the reunion.


Locate Group 28 members
The first order of business was to locate the 51 members of Group 28. Fortunately we had the yearbook issued by Peace Corps at the end of our training in 1971; this gave us the names and 1971 home addresses of everyone. This, plus personal contacts maintained over the years, yielded a list of 20 names and current addresses. By July 1999, we had located 42 Group 28ers and our Friends of Group 28 list had grown to 31. We were able to locate these members using the following methods:

Method A: RPCV Directories
There are at least two RPCV Directories that have been published in the last three years. One is "The Directory of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Staff, 1961-1997" by Harris Publishing Company. Three new addresses were found in this directory. There are actually 17 Group 28 members listed in this directory, but 14 of them had already been located. Another directory is "Who's Who in the Peace Corps" by Reference Press. I believe this directory has been published in 1993 and 1999. Three additional addresses of "missing" people were found in this directory.

Method B: College Alumni Associations.
Using the information in the Group 28 yearbook, we sent emails or letters to 16 college alumni associations asking them to forward a message to the person we were trying to find. Using this method we located 6 people. Practically all the alumni associations responded back to us, but many of them had inactive files on the person we were trying to find. The best search engine to find the alumni information is Yahoo.

Method C: People Search, Email Search and general search engines on the web.
If partial information is available on a person, such as present state of residence or home town, People Search programs can be used. This method was successful for finding three people. In one case, the alumni association was not able to contact the person, but they gave us the state of residence and the last name of the person. Another person was contacted using this method. He had also been contacted by his alumni association, but had not responded to our request for him to contact us. Attempts to contact two other people using information from people searches have so far not been successful. We sent letters to relatives, hoping the letter would be forwarded, but so far we have not heard back from the people.

Methods A and B are the most successful, since people listed in directories or who maintain contact with their alumni associations usually do not mind if they are contacted.

Information for other Liberia RPCV groups. There are about 1,400 names of Liberia RPCVs listed in the RPCV Directory by Harris Press. There were about 4,000 Peace Corps Volunteers in Liberia from 1962 -1990 (according to the Wisconsin RPCV calendar). This means that about 35% of the addresses can be obtained through this one directory. Group 28 members that were listed in this directory was 33%, (17/51).


Communications Link
Concurrently, we initiated a series of communications with members and friends of Group 28. Beginning in November 1998 and ending in early July 1999 (three weeks before the reunion), we sent (via e-mail and regular mail) four letters with accompanying forms to initially determine interest in a reunion and subsequently to gather support and information needed to plan it. There were four mailings, one in November 1998, January 1999, April 1999, and July 1999. Each mailing also included the current membership list, which as it grew served to increase enthusiasm for the reunion. For future reunions, two mailings would probably be sufficient, but for this first one four seemed to be needed and welcomed. Additionally, a "May-July 1999 Communications Plan" was also developed to provide a fairly detailed timeline for the local planning group and committee chairs to follow in the final 2-3 months leading up to the reunion. G28R").

Use email as much as possible.

Maintain an email address book with individual email addresses, and also create sub-group mailing lists for communicating with the local planning group, the committee chairs, and other logical sub-groups.

In addition to the formal mailings, send e-mail messages to individuals as much as possible (e.g., if you've just located someone whom you know if a good friend of someone already located, put them both in touch with each other; this generates and sustains enthusiasm for the reunion)

Keep the mailing lists up to date and have them proofread carefully (zip codes have a way of becoming phone numbers, etc.)

For more information on organizing a group reunion, contact Don Drach at