AARPCV began as a small, informal group of RPCVs who gathered to share meals and stories in 1982. By 1983, we had evolved into an organized group with established bylaws and 501(c)(3) status. Some of our first activities involved potluck supper meetings, a book club, and volunteering with refugees.In 1985, AARPCV hosted the National Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Conference on the Georgia Tech campus. Over 300 RPCVs from across the country participated in workshops, projects, dances, and country of service group events. By 1989, AARPCV had decided to implement a formal leadership structure with an executive “president through treasurer” team. Our first president, Stephen Dorage (RPCV Philippines), was elected in 1990.
1994 was a pivotal year for AARPCV. We hosted our second national conference, this time with over 900 attendees. At that conference, AARPCV instituted a “volunteer day in the community” where attendees participated in various projects including school beautification at the John Hope Elementary School. This event was adopted at subsequent national conferences. The conference put AARPCV “on the map,” both literally and figuratively. Attendees created what was at the time the world’s largest hand-drawn, painted world map. It measured 37 feet long and 18 feet high, and was unveiled at the closing ceremony of the conference. Peace Corps Director, Carol Bellamy, got down on her knees to paint in her country of service, Guatemala. 1994 was also the year that AARPCV reached 200 paid members.
More than three decades after our humble beginnings, AARPCV continues to be an active part of the Atlanta landscape for RPCVs and the surrounding community. Membership fluctuates between 250 and 300 members each year. Among many other activities, we host quarterly potluck socials, fund quarterly international development projects, and participate in quarterly volunteer events. AARPCV continues to grow and expand its initiatives to storytelling and mentoring. Every other year, we co-host the national Lillian Carter Award Ceremony in conjunction with the Carter Center.