Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Collection
Lew Hemmer served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Macedonia from 2011 to 2013 on a community development project. He later completed two more service terms with Peace Corps Response, first in Saint Lucia on a youth development project (2014-2015), and then on the island of Dominica with the Ministry of Education (2016). Hemmer had wanted to join the Peace Corps for a long time, and found a good opportunity once he had retired but his wife was still working. He joined at age 68 and was sent to Macedonia, where he worked at a non-governmental organization (NGO) for disabled adults to expand services and activities and to decrease discrimination. Hemmer established a sports and exercise program which eventually expanded to include community members, and in the process broke stereotypes about what older men could do. He talks about training and his difficulty connecting with the younger volunteers and language challenges, but he had success once he reached his site. After feeling restless upon returning home and wanting to contribute more, Hemmer volunteered to go to Saint Lucia to develop protocols to strengthen the resiliency of youth and decrease suicidal ideation, especially among young girls who were frequently bullied. He mentions the differences between being a regular volunteer and a Response volunteer. After returning home from his year in Saint Lucia, he saw another Response position perfectly suited for him and went to Dominica to work with autistic children. However, the island was very small and had few truly autistic kids, so due to lack of work and a knee problem he returned home early. Interviewed and recorded by Candice Wiggum, March 21, 2019. 2 digital audio files (web streaming files combined into 1 file).