Grassroots Community Development
One of the core principles of the Peace Corps is to promote grassroots community development. Volunteers immerse themselves in the local culture and engage directly with community members to identify their needs and aspirations. By working from the ground up, volunteers can design and implement projects that are tailored to the unique challenges faced by each community.
Education and Empowerment
Education is a central focus of Peace Corps initiatives. Volunteers are crucial in enhancing access to quality education, teaching various subjects, and supporting teachers’ professional development. Volunteers lay the foundation for lasting change and capacity building within the community by empowering individuals with knowledge and skills.
Health and Well-being
Health-related projects form another critical aspect of Peace Corps service. Volunteers collaborate with local health professionals to raise awareness, provide preventive care, and address health issues prevalent in the community. They contribute to initiatives targeting maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS awareness, sanitation, and nutrition.
Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality
Peace Corps Volunteers actively promote women’s empowerment and gender equality in the communities they serve. They work to reduce gender disparities, promote women’s rights, and encourage women’s participation in decision-making processes and economic activities.
Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Conservation
In regions where agriculture is a primary livelihood, Peace Corps Volunteers help implement sustainable farming practices, enhance food security, and promote environmental conservation. Introducing modern techniques and fostering ecological awareness contribute to the long-term well-being of both communities and their natural surroundings.
Youth Development and Leadership
Engaging with youth is a priority for Peace Corps Volunteers. They organize youth development programs, mentor young leaders, and encourage skill-building activities to prepare the next generation for responsible citizenship and leadership roles.
Bridging Cultural Divides
The Peace Corps promotes cross-cultural understanding and respect. Volunteers integrate into the community’s fabric, learn local languages, and embrace cultural traditions. In doing so, they become cultural ambassadors, building bridges of understanding between their home country and the host community.
Lasting Connections and Alumni Impact
The relationships formed during Peace Corps service extend beyond the volunteer’s service period. Many volunteers maintain lifelong connections with their communities, further solidifying their work’s impact. Additionally, Peace Corps alums often continue contributing to international development efforts, leveraging their experiences to create change in their professional and personal lives.
Born and raised in Mahopac, a suburban area of New York City, Goetschkes drew inspiration from his
father, a firefighter and plumber, who instilled in him a desire to become a hero . . . he fulfilled this aspiration by joining the Coast Guard during the first Gulf War.
Goetschkes completed his high school education at Mahopac High School in New York City in 1984. He further pursued his academic endeavors at SUNY Oneonta, where he studied history, economics, and foil fencing, graduating in 1988. Later, he obtained a Master of Arts Degree in Elementary Education and a Field Endorsement in Secondary Social Sciences.
Goetschkes’ strong determination to succeed led him to work three part-time jobs throughout the year and take out loans to finance his college education independently. This resilient attitude extended to his service in the U.S. Coast Guard for 11 years, during which he earned recognition as a member of the prestigious Alpha Sigma Lambda Honors Fraternity in 2002.
Goetschkes joined the U.S. Peace Corps after college expanding his educational horizons beyond the United States. During his two-and-a-half years of service in Tonga, he actively engaged in community-based projects, fostering connections and giving back to the global community. His travels to India, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji gave him a broad perspective that greatly influenced his teaching career, during which he had the opportunity to shape the minds of hundreds of students.
Goetschkes’ dedication to serving his country extended to his enlistment in the U.S. Coast Guard during the first Gulf War. His commendable service in the Coast Guard earned him several notable awards, including the USO General Dynamics Community Service Award in 1995, the Navy League Award for Outstanding Military Service in 1996, and two consecutive Good Conduct Awards from the USCG in 2000. Additionally, he received the National Ski Patrol 10-Year Service Award in 2017.Outside of his military service, Goetschkes’ hard work and commitment were recognized in various other contexts.
He received a Certificate of Appreciation for Peace Corps Service from President Bush in 1992. 2006 he was honored with the Teacher of the Year Award from the Norwin School District, highlighting his exceptional educational contributions. Furthermore, he received the Knights of Aksarben Good Neighbor Award in 2012 and another National Ski Patrol 10-Year Service Award in 2017.
Currently, Robert Goetschkes is a warehousing professional at the Leeward Light Charitable Foundation, a full-time role that allows him to apply his critical thinking skills and passion for efficiency. The Leeward Light Charitable Foundation operates charitable thrift stores throughout New England, using the profits to support various local charities and foundations.
Since 2009, the foundation has donated over $3 million to the community, working toward its mission of providing food, clothing, and comfort to those in need.
Following his honorable discharge from the Coast Guard after 11 years of service, Goetschkes married and started a family. As a father, he strongly believes in the power of education and service to create a lasting legacy. In addition to his achievements as an educator and decorated veteran, Goetschkes dedicated his time to various community programs. For five years, he actively served in the Red Cross Disaster Services Department, ensuring that victims of natural disasters received essential provisions such as food, water, and shelter. Moreover, he collaborated closely with the Henry Doorly Zoo for five years as an aquarium diver, using his skills acquired in the U.S. Coast Guard to contribute to the maintenance and development of aquarium programs.
In his personal life, Goetschkes remains an avid learner, fueling his passion for continuous growth. Whether engaging in writing, fly fishing, disc golf, cooking, or bird watching, he approaches his pursuits with the same dedication he exhibited throughout his teaching career. Notably, he became a Certified Sous Chef with the American Culinary Federation.
Furthermore, he cherishes quality time spent outdoors with friends and family. His love for winter sports originated from childhood vacations in the Adirondack Mountains. When not engaged in his backgammon game or creating culinary masterpieces, he actively participates in skiing, kayaking, mountain biking, surfing, sailing, and scuba diving.
Robert Goetschkes exemplifies a multifaceted individual who has dedicated his life to education, service, and philanthropy. His unwavering commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of others resonates through his professional achievements, community involvement, and pursuit of personal passions.