Thursday, January 06, 2005
Roanoke County couple prepares for service in the Eastern Carribbean
Posted: 3:29 p.m.
The Zawacki's temporary home at Sunscape Apartments was cluttered with papers, boxes and knick-knacks. A folding table stood behind the futon and a wooden stool looked out of place beside three green plastic chairs.
"My daughter said to her husband, 'My parents are living like college students,'" said 59-year-old Katie Zawacki.
Photo by Andrea Psimer | The Roanoke Times
After 30 years in Roanoke, Katie (foreground) and John Zawacki decided to join the Peace Corps. They left today for a two-year assignment in the Carribbean
That changed today, when Katie and her husband John, 69, departed for St. Lucia to begin a tour with the Peace Corps that will last two years and three months.
"We're going for an adventure, to live in another country again," Katie Zawacki said. "We were looking for something to do. John had just retired and we didn't want to stay here forever."
Although they have lived in the Roanoke Valley for 32 years, the Zawackis are no strangers to the rest of the world. Two years ago, they volunteered for the Peace Corps and prepared to travel again.
"We both have years of experience and skill," John said. "Our wisdom, patience and tolerance are assets to the Peace Corps."
The Zawacki's bring other assets too: skills they learned at their jobs. Katie worked more than 14 years at Blue Ridge Behavioral Health Care as a prevention specialist and John was an electrical engineer at General Electric for 34 years. Katie said she would like to work with young children again while John said he hoped he could help people in Eastern Carribbean with the more technical aspects of life.
Although they are going to Eastern Carribbean, John and Katie do not yet know their exact destination.
Although only 6 percent of the 7,733 Peace Corps volunteers are older than 50, a Peace Corps spokeswoman said the organization encourages older people to volunteer.