Gale Gibson, who was there at the beginning, recalls:
Tom Bauder was the “founder.” He organized the first “gathering” of Colombia volunteers in connection with the 25th anniversary celebration of the Peace Corps in Washington DC. About 50-60 people showed up at the Colombia “country of service” update. Tom developed a mailing list of former Colombia volunteers from those at the meeting and other sources such as NPCA. Using local Washington area addresses, he invited by mail the former volunteers to an organizational meeting. Of the 50 or so invitees, only one showed up besides Tom, me! Tom, undeterred, over a two –three year period (1988-1990) wrote and mailed out several newsletters almost by himself. I opened a bank account to deposit money that people sent in from time to time to cover expenses. After Tom left for Mexico ( he is back in the States now), I put out a couple of newsletters. I asked Bob Colombo to help out. Bob eagerly gathered a local group together at Pat Wand’s house which formed the Board and the Board elected Bob as first President. Bob basically wrote the By-laws and Friends of Colombia became incorporated in Maryland as a non profit organization (501 (c) 3) in December 1990.
Bob, in his infamous unfinished basement with an out-of-date computer, tirelessly built up the organization. He basically wrote the newsletter and mailed it, kept track of former volunteers as they changed address, and was the public voice for the organization for ten years, 1990-2000. He now lives in quiet seclusion tracking down deceased civil war soldiers from his hometown, Fillmore, New York. He actually has a publisher with a scheduled 2007 publication date. Look for it in your favorite local bookstore!
In 2001 the Board elected FOC’s second president, Arleen Cheston. Arleen has cheerfully and gracefully pushed FOC ahead. She has recruited new Board members, organized and conducted regional FOC meetings in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and Washington, and started the initial efforts to build our website.
Gale Gibson and Pat Wand don’t know when to quit-thank heaven! They have been the thread that has kept the organization together. Pat hosted meetings at her American University library office, established the Peace Corps Colombia Archives at her library, and spoke up for FOC at national meetings. On the other hand, Gale was the secretary, treasurer, mailman, ghost writer, stamp licker, etc. He, without complaint, did the jobs that needed to be done when there was no one else.