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Dear fellow RPCVs,

This message is long overdue… RPCV Friends of Azerbaijan community has been seeing an increasing number of posts from many in our RPCV community in the last few weeks (and months) attempting to show support and combat Islamophobia. We have yet to post a political statement in this group, but in light of the increase in violence against Muslims in America, and the good works many of us are doing independently, we feel it is time to organize our efforts. First and foremost, we would like to thank each and every RPCV affiliate group who has stood up and spoken out against Islamophobia and the growing racism in this country. It is people like us that will make a difference for those who are on the fence. Our stories, efforts, and words, will not go unnoticed. If we can reach even a few who will join us, our efforts will be worth the work.

As both an RPCV, and the wife of an American-Azerbaijani, I personally feel that it is my duty to speak out against the hateful rhetoric and the intolerance of Muslims in our communities. When we joined the Peace Corps we took an oath. One of the things we swore to do was to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. The first Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of religion (to practice or not practice). Our third goal obligation to teach about the people we worked and lived among is an obligation that many in our group takes seriously. I would be remiss if I did not state that the weight of this responsibility has been personally crushing lately, which is why I am reaching out to all of you today to unite, stand up and help us fight back. Fight back against Islamophobia in your communities, homes and online. I am writing today to advocate for the coordination of 3rd goal efforts as a collective community, to support the 1st Amendment rights of Muslims in America, and to coordinate a political effort to combat Islamophobia in our government.

You all sacrificed 2-3 years (or more) of your life to the Peace Corps. It is time that we take the lessons we learned, and put them to work. The power of our united actions will help combat the myths and fear that are spreading rampantly throughout our nation. If you have not already done so, we would like to encourage you to please help the RPCV Friends of Azerbaijan by taking the following steps:

1. Reach out to Muslims in your community. Show them the love and support that many of us felt when we were abroad. Find out if any in your neighborhoods may need someone to help escort them safely, if any are in need of resources you can help with, or if you’d like, if any of them would be willing to meet with you so that you can express your support. Sometimes just hearing that there are people who support them can make a significant difference.

2. Call out Islamophobia when you see it. We know that this is hard. I too have family members who are misinformed, and friends who buy into the media misinformation and political rhetoric. Many of you are already doing this. Thank you! We appreciate the respectful, fact-based, logical responses we are seeing. It is heartening to see so many of us working individually to combat the racism in our own social sphere.

3. Vote. The political process in each state is different, but voting in your primary or caucus is one of the most important things we can do to show support for a different path. If you have friends and family who are not registered, this would be a great time to help people sign up to vote.

4. Share your Peace Corps stories. Let people know your experiences, and for those that served in a Muslim community, remind Americans that you know hundreds of Muslims personally. Many of us are doing this, and those stories make a big difference! It’s easy for people to believe lies of those who don’t know a single Muslim, but a lot harder to ignore the stories of those who know hundreds!

5. Contact your representatives. Local, state and federal. Ask them to speak out against Islamophobia and to support the Muslim community in America. Our collective voices made a big difference for human rights abuses in Azerbaijan, our voices need to be heard again to support human rights for Muslims in our own country.

Our group has not been political in general up until this point (with few exceptions). As your fellow RPCV, I understand that some of you would prefer to not be political or involved in such sensitive matters. However, it is the vision and mission statement of the RPCV Friends of Azerbaijan to use advocacy to promote tolerance, respect and unity. Apathy and inaction are tantamount to condoning this type of rhetoric and behavior. We believe if we take action and unite to support this Muslims in America, that we can make a significant difference in this ongoing dialog.

The RPCV Friends of Azerbaijan will be forming a committee of volunteers to create social media posts targeted at combating Islamophobia and promoting a better understanding of the people we served. I would like to open the dialog to other NPCA affiliate groups for ideas on how to help combat Islamophobia and help our Muslim-American community. If anyone would like to join me in this, please send me a private message or reply below. All feedback and comments are welcome.

Please read this message I have been authorized to share.

Wishing you all Peace,
Raechelle Baghirov
RPCV Azerbaijan 2007-2010
Group Administrator/NPCA Liaison

SEAPAX 2016 Board Elections

voting boxElections for the 2016 SEAPAX Board are now open. Members may vote any time from now until 11 pm, Sunday, December 13th. The new Board will take office on January 1st. Show your support for SEAPAX by participating in this election. Candidate biographies are available for review.

When you are ready to vote, go to the Election Ballot and follow the instructions on the ballot for casting your vote.

To cast a ballot, you must be a SEAPAX member with paid dues current or with one-year free membership status for RPCVs in their first year post-service. If you are not yet a SEAPAX member or need to renew your membership, please do so today via the Join page on our website.

If you have any questions about the ballot or how to vote, please email board@seapax.org

Thank you for your participation
SEAPAX

 

Calling all RPCVs who want to help SEAPAX  help the Peace Corps community!  November is election month for SEAPAX too, and we are now accepting nominations for candidates for 2016 Board Officer and Leadership Team positions, listed below.

Please consider becoming a candidate yourself, or nominating someone else, with their permission. If you are not sure which position you’d be most suited for, we’d be happy to discuss this with you personally.   Becoming an officer or committee chair can be both rewarding and fun, help you build leadership skills, and offers direct opportunities to get more involved with RPCVs and the diverse communities of metropolitan Seattle.  We are looking for folks who are both self-starters and team players, and who value being part of an active organization.

The Basics for Candidates
Eligibility:
Candidates must be RPCVs and members in good standing of SEAPAX, with dues paid at least 30 days in advance of the election or with dues waived during their first year after completion of Peace Corps service.  Preference will be given to candidates who have been SEAPAX members for one year prior to the election, or otherwise vetted by the current Board. That said, all interested members are welcome and encouraged to become candidates for the Board and Leadership Team. Positions may be shared, so don’t hesitate to  submit  a nomination with another RPCV for a specific position.
Time commitment: Candidates for all positions need to be able to devote an average of a few hours per month and participate in regular business  meetings (held in-person or virtually) for a 12-month period from January- December 2016. Each Officer At-Large is responsible for serving as lead for a SEAPAX Committee or function.
Election Process and Eligibility to Vote
Nominations will be accepted until October 31, 2015
Voting to take place in November by electronic ballot available to eligible SEAPAX members, defined as:

  • Those with annual dues paid at least 30 days in advance of the election
  • RPCVs with authorized free membership (for first year post-service)

Results will be announced in December, and new leaders will assume office on January 1, 2016

  • If there are 2 candidates for an Officer position, the individual receiving the lesser number of votes will become a Director at Large

SEAPAX Membership
If you need to join or renew your membership, please go to the Membership page on the SEAPAX website for instructions on how to submit your dues electronically or by check. If you need to  check on your membership status, please send an email request to: members@seapax.org.
Nomination Procedure and Positions
To become a candidate, please send the following information to board@seapax.org

  • Full Name
  • Email address and phone number
  • PC Country(ies) and Years of Service
  • If nominating someone else, please include your name and contact info.
  • Brief statement of interest: why you are interested in the position, and what background you would bring to this position and to the organization
  • Optional your biography or resume, and name of a reference

Positions Open for 2016  (see By-laws for position descriptions)
Officers:

  • President
  • Vice President
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Officers at Large (3)

Committee Chairs and Coordinators (appointed by the Board)

  • Book Club Coordinator
  • Program Chair
  • Social Events Chair
  • Speaker’s Bureau Chairperson
  • Webmaster

Questions? please contact us at board@seapax.org

Bullittn

Join SEAPAX on a private tour of the Bullitt Center, the greenest commercial building in the world, Saturday, Sept 5, 4 pm. This event is sponsored by SEAPAX and open to RPCVs and friends, but space is limited so please RSVP to news@seapax.com or on our Facebook page.
After the tour join us as we regroup at a nearby restaurant for a no-host dinner and an opportunity to discuss what we have seen.

The goal of the Bullitt Center is to drive change in the marketplace faster and further by showing what’s possible today. The era of harm reduction, half steps, and lesser evils is behind us. As a society, we need to be bold in ways that were once unimaginable.

The Bullitt Center is located 1501 East Madison Street, Seattle, WA 98122.

See more about the mission and goals of the Bullitt Center at: bullittcenter.org

Day of Event:
Please arrive no earlier than 15 minutes prior to your tour. Tours are staffed on an as-needed basis. A staff member will be there to let you in no earlier than the time indicated on your booking.

Getting Here:
-The Bullitt Center does not have parking. We highly encourage visitors take transit.
-Enter through the door adjacent to McGilvra park, near the ping pong table. Signs will be posted on the doors.
-Guests with mobility issues are welcome to unload on Pike, at the end of 15th Avenue.

SEAPAX Annual Campout

Stillaguamish River

Stillaguamish River

RPCVs, families and friends are invited to the SEAPAX camp out June 19-21 at Wiley Creek Campground in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. This campground (more information) is on the Mountain Loop Highway, about 5 miles east of the Verlot Public Service Center (map). We have booked the B Group Campsite area. Come for one night or two. Cost is just $5 per person/night for the nights of June 19th and 20th. Plans are still forming for hikes (examples: Lake 22, Pinnacle Lake, Heather Lake, Big Four Ice Caves) and a group dinner Saturday night.

So, mark your calendar now for outdoor fun! There’s a shelter people can sleep in–a two-level wood-frame with about 400 square feet of space on each level–or they can bring their own tents. Space for ~20 people and 5 cars so carpooling is advised. Please RSVP to Nikki Eller (nikkimeller@gmail.com).

New Board for the New Year

New_clipartPlease join us in welcoming our new Board members who took office on January 1:

Co-Presidents: Lillian Baer and Arlene Mitchell
Secretary: Laurel Saito
Co-Treasurers: Carey Homen and Kevin Brady
Directors at Large: Tom Miller and Nikki Eller

Together with the 2015 leadership team, they are already working on plans for interesting and meaningful programs and events throughout the year, and welcome all of you to get involved.  Look for the latest info in our monthly newsletters and social media places, and don’t hesitate to get in touch by email at:  board@seapax.org.

It’s time again for a special SEAPAX tradition ,our annual holiday party. This yearly event is an opportunity to socialize with RPCV’s and their families and friends, to share stories and recollections and generally have a great time. Part of the tradition is a donation drive at the party to benefit local organizations that help those in need. This year we will be collecting apparel for Treehouse, an organization which assists foster children and youth ,or nonperishable grocery items for a local food bank. See Donations information below. And we’ll be selling the famous RPCV international calendars, with all proceeds going to support the SEAPAX Small Grants program.

Party particulars:

When: Saturday, December 6, from 6-9 p.m.

Where: home of Lillian Baer and Arlene Mitchell, 2502 25th Ave W (corner of W. Smith St. and 25th Ave. W) Seattle 98119, in the Magnolia neighborhood.

Bring: food or beverage to share, along with any serving ware. Please label food ingredients to help those with food allergies or restrictions.You are welcome to bring your own cup, plate, and eating utensils. Please label ingredients of food items to help those with food allergies

Donate: item of teen-friendly clothing, school supplies; or nonperishable foods

Help: volunteers to set up and clean up, and to deliver donations after the party. To sign up, send an email to: events@seapax.org

 

Donations

This year’s recipient group, Treehouse has been providing education and support since 1988 to help improve the life chances for foster kids in King County, who number about 1400 on any given day. With the foster care clothing allowance at $200/year, Treehouse’s Wearhouse clothing bank helps fill the gap. But items for teens, for whom appearances matter most, are often in short supply. We will be collecting new or gently-used on-trend clothing in all sizes , for guys and gals, as well as school supplies. Suggestions: skinny jeans; tops and graphic tees; hoodies; Seahawks and Sounders gear; accessories of all types ( hats, scarves, gloves, purses, costume jewelry, etc.); as well as new underwear, hosiery, or pajamas. If you’re an RPCV of the Millennial generation, you may have additional ideas for donations.
Alternately, you can bring nonperishable items to be donated to a local food bank.

 

How to get there

Directions to 2502 25th Ave. W,  from our hosts:

We are on the corner of 25th Ave W. and W. Smith St. It is the NE corner, you see only one level from 25th. We are next to a three story modern red and brown house. There is parking on/near all four corners, up and down the streets.

From 15th Ave NW:

  1. Take Dravus off of 15th, pass QFC on the right, Starbucks and Red Mill on the left), then overpass is over the RR tracks, then a light with Arco gas station. Continue up the hill on Dravus to 25th, take a left, and go 4 blocks (pass Armor, Raye, Halliday, then Smith. We are on the left, at the corner of Smith.

OR

  1. Take Magnolia bridge (right off of 15th (Elliott), follow up and into Magnolia, first right after bridge onto Thorndyke, slight right still on Thorndyke Ave, few blocks down the boulevard and take the left just after Boston, angle onto Thorndyke Place, up onto 24th, the left on Smith, up to next corner, house is on the right .

If you get lost, do not despair or spend time wandering or wondering; call us 206-393-2282 or 206-913-3382 and tell us where you are, and we will direct you here.

 

Carpooling is encouraged. Find a ride or offer a ride through the SEAPAX Facebook page or Yahoo list. Links at “Connect with SEAPAX “ on our website.

Transit: The party location is served by bus routes #24 and 33. Consult Metro’s Trip Planner for directions.

 

 

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