Every Peace Corps Volunteer has his or her own reasons and motivations for joining the Peace Corps. It is an arduous process, right from the outset, so one does not enter lightly. There are numerous application procedures, letters of recommendation, essays to write, interviews, medical clearances to receive, so for many it takes about a year, just to receive the invitation to join--and given federal budget cuts, it is not all that easy to receive such an invitation. Following the invitation to join come weeks of preparation, followed by months of training. Some surely decide early on, it is not worth the time and effort. But for those who eventually do depart for regions unknown and for work yet unknown--"for the toughest job you'll ever love"--the rewards can be great. And yet, despite the worthiness, the challenges during the years of service can also be so great, that one may often need to be reminded of one's original motivations to give up home and family to serve in a developing country.
I need only think of Bill, and in whose memory I dedicate my service. One cannot have spent more than 40 years living with someone so kind and thoughtful of others and not be somewhat influenced by his outlook on life. And so it was with Bill, who left us all too soon, on February 20, 2010, but left with an inspiring, noble legacy of service to his fellow man. He surely had special innate gifts of selflessness and loving spirit towards others. In high school, Bill was recognized by the Rotary for his 'Service Above Self.' As a struggling graduate student, he purposefully searched out a way to find those who could benefit from his generous spirit, and so he became a 'Secret Santa' through the postal service's Operation North Pole, buying and gifting presents for needy children, when he himself only lived off a small stipend. But mostly, Bill gave the gift of his personal time and organizational skills to help others. Over the years, through the Seattle Milk Fund, the Salvation Army, the Kiwanis Club International, as well as through his own personal initiatives, he promoted and supported schools and villages in Africa and Central America, international campaigns to improve the lives and health of children, as well as help schools and youth, needy families, individuals, and recent immigrants in various parts of the U.S and in neighborhoods of his own community. Before he died, he laid out plans for the future, which he hoped I would be able to fulfill in his stead. In a small way, I hope my service honors the memory of Bill and his philosophy of life--placing the needs of others first and doing one's best to serve. And so on President’s Day, 2012, I will honor in addition to the memory of our Presidents, also the memory of one who was president of several community service organization, president of his business, and president of goodwill in the hearts’ of many.