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Community & Members

Servas is a community of people with a shared value of fostering peace through direct connections between people. Read heartwarming stories about Servas members contributing to the Servas foundations of Peace and Social Justice, giving back to their communities, near and far.  

Tell us about contributions you are making to improve the conditions for Peace and Social Justice in your community. 

Send your stories here.

  • February 21, 2024 8:07 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    graphic of sad-faced woman surrounded by a computer networkVolunteers Feel Left Out...   Anon

    During COVID US Servas fell into dire straits. We didn’t know if we would survive, but a lot of us heard the call, rolled up our sleeves, and took it on. Of course, as with any volunteer situation, some contribute more than others, but still— Servas is an organization about people.   

    Several years and many changes later,a number of our committed volunteers feel left out. Things have changed so much. We've become computerized and so organized that the people part of the volunteering, the people part of being a Servas member has taken a back seat to the systems and organization.  

    A former local interviewer reached out to a former regional coordinator to ask when she might be trained to start interviewing again. Since she doesn’t have a US Servas address, she had not received the invitation email for the training. An advantage of having regional coordinators who interview is that they get to know many of the people in their area and can create events that bring their regions together.  

    Another local member reached out to ask when our next area event would be. The former regional coordinator could not say because anybody can schedule and announce an event once approved through the events team, but few who weren’t regional coordinators want to go through the hoops. It somehow feels, in spite of all the positive changes, that some babies have been thrown out with the bath water. Let’s step back and re-evaluate. 

    Editor's Note - The board recognizes this as an important issue. In the years since COVID the focus has been to understand our new computer systems and survive as an all-volunteer organization. Now is the time to focus on our core... people connections. We hope to see meaningful progress this year. 

  • November 25, 2023 1:40 PM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)
    by Deirdre Marlowe 

    Just your typical Los Angeles Friendsgiving high on a hill in Encino on Saturday, November 11th. Our host, Brian Saltsburg, set up dining tables in two rooms. One of the rooms had a wall of books and a fireplace (photo).  Brian is currently working with Servas youth and setting up an active SYLE program. Photo - Clockwise from Left: Brian Saltsberg, Quynh Nguyen, Paige LaCombe, Jennifer McDaniel, Todj Mandel, the author.

    It was our third Friendsgiving. Attendees included Todj and Natasha, hosts of the first dinner, and Paige LaCombe, host of the second. It was a very Servas Thanksgiving... a former Vietnamese child refugee long married to an Israeli American, a refugee from the Ukraine, a woman who spent her career as a pilot.  Board Chair Dick Weaver made the drive up from Oceanside with his wife Patti. Sainath and Chitra Chandavarkar brought Eve of Diwali sweets. Others came and cooked for the potluck as well – some even tried new dishes, perhaps in advance of the Thanksgiving feast on the horizon. A good time was had by all. 

    photo of Dick Weaver, Board Chair, Natasha Mandel, Paige LaCombe, Sai Chandavarkar, Todj Mandel From left: Dick Weaver, Board Chair, Natasha Mandel, Paige LaCombe, Sai Chandavarkar, Todj Mandel

  • October 25, 2023 7:13 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Photo of attendees at Cornhusker 9x12 Picnicby Jacqueline Barnhardt & Joanne Ferguson Cavanaugh 

    Nebraska Servas members, Jacqueline Barnhardt and Wooly Wooldridge hosted a 9x13 themed picnic for members and guests in Wooly’s Big Back Yard in Lincoln, Nebraska on September 17thGuests were encouraged to bring food in a 9x13 inch baking pan to celebrate National 9x13 Day usually held on September 13.  Jacqueline was the one who originally submitted the idea to create a 9x13 Holiday in 2017 and it was featured in Food Network Magazine. This 9x13 picnic coincided with their hosting of Servas Taiwan General Secretary, JoJo Jen accompanied by two other Taiwan Servas members, Fifi Tsai and Alecia Chen for a few days of culinary exchange and more.  

    All members from the Great Plains region were invited. Three states were represented: new Servas member Nettie Myers from South Dakota, Tim Sullivan (US Servas Board member and interviewer) and Charlotte Miller-Sullivan (interviewer) from Iowa, Ingrid Kirst, Jeff Epler, Joanne Ferguson Cavanaugh (US Servas Board Secretary), Elba Cera, Charles & Barbara Francis from Nebraska.  Two guests,  Cathron Cole O’Connor and Brett Jurgens, joined Servas!  American songbook musical entertainment was provided by Sharon Kreimer and Bobby Gadoury.  Building peace, one picnic and one conversation at a time works and we hope to repeat this event next year. In all 32 people attended. 

    If you would like to host a local gathering for your Servas community -perhaps around the visit of Servas travelers, a museum tour, hike or just for the heck of it - our US Servas Events Team can help get the word out! Use the Request Local Event Support link found on our website.  

  • September 16, 2023 6:40 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Photo of US Servas member, Renee Rileyby Renee Riley 

    Renee Riley is a resident of Maui and a member of US Servas for more than two decades. She has a regular blog post, Where in the World Are Barry and Renee in which she recently posted information about the aftermath of the devastating fires that destroyed much of Lahaina (not too far from where Renee lives) and other parts of the island. The fires started on August 8th, and as of August 24th, some of the fires continued to burn. Hundreds of people are still unaccounted for. 

    Immediately after the fires were first reported several US Servas board members reached out to Renee to make sure she and her large circle of friends and family were okay. Renee, who is most definitely a glass half full person, recently posted about some of the people on the island “caught doing good.”  These include Kerri Winner and Dave Krick, owners of Hot Yoga in Kihei. 

    Kerri - All of our yoga instructors are volunteering where they see a need. Amber helps to find long-term shelter for families. Samantha is working on boats that take food, water and fuel directly to the people in Lahaina. Rhema is also buying supplies through donations. The rest of our staff members are volunteering with the Red Cross at the shelters and donation locations. We are blessed to have such an amazing group of people working with us in our studio. Thank you for seeing us, Renée!” Kerri and Dave are also sponsoring regular free decompression, sound bath and meditation events. 

    Some of the staff of Hot Yoga in Kihei, Maui 

    Local theaters are sponsoring free movies for children and donating 20% of their receipts to the Maui Food Bank. Some people have opened their homes to relief workers. 

    While you may not be able to help in person, there are other ways you can help. Many organizations are looking for contributions – money can do the most good.  Consider giving to the Hawaii State Teachers’ Association fire fund for teachers and classrooms directly affected by the fires. Or the Maui Strong Fund. For more opportunities to help Maui make it through and recover go to a list from the Honolulu Civil Beat. 

  • June 08, 2023 9:16 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    photo of Jim Edwards with backpack high up in the remote mountainsby Lee Rowley 

    Recently, US Servas received a $140,000 bequest from the James H. Edwards Trust. Jim Edwards was an avid US Servas member for nearly forty years and managed to build a thriving homestead in a very remote part of Alaska by his wits, determination, and clever mind. Here is some of his story.  

    As a young man in 1953, James H. Edwards moved to McCarthy, Alaska to homestead in the remote wilderness mining town abandoned when Kennecott Copper Corp. abruptly ceased operations in 1938 and pulled out. This move required some extraordinary creativity to thrive.  

    photo of Jim & his wife with their airplaneJim lived in McCarthy continuously until his passing in 2016 at age 85, raising two children Stephen and Shelly with his first wife Maxine.  He obtained a pilot's license early in his career as it wasn’t easy to prosper in this remote area. There were no roads or connection to the city for many years, so flying was the only feasible option.  

    There were many close calls involving outdoor adventures, cold and danger and travel over long distances. A great deal of fortitude, creativity, optimism and out-of-the-box thinking allowed him to make a living and raise a family while building a house, airstrip and hangar. "He was a jack of all trades. There was almost nothing he couldn't do."  

    photo of Jim's homemade tractor frond-end loaderJim built a car he dubbed Rigor Mortis from the parts of 1930s-era cars left behind and an airplane that he flew to Seattle. Jim was described as conserving, economizing and frugal, perhaps evidenced by his habit of reusing teabags repeatedly or collecting a large supply of scrap metal to use for making things he needed to avoid having to purchase them.He was known as the areas “foremost recycling genius.” Read more of his amazing story in this September 4, 2016 of the Anchorage Daily News 

    Jim joined Servas around 1980. Despite its being back of the beyond, over the year Jim hosted many Servas travelers from all over the world in McCarthy, several of whom became friends and important individuals in his life.  For example, Walter and Ursel from Switzerland returned several times and built a beautiful log cabin on Jim’s land.   Jim and his wife traveled extensively with Servas. Jim wrote long letters detailing the experiences and relationships with people who hosted him.  

    Photo of Jim standing on old Kennecott ore-carrying cables What Jim valued were personal relationships, those meaningful transactions between people that underlie the human experience. It’s why Servas played such a significant role in Jim’s life.  Jim believed deeply in Servas, and the Servas principles of peace and cultural understanding.  That is why Jim earmarked this significant bequest to US Servas and the members charged with carrying its mission forward.  

    The US Servas Board will continue to collaborate with Jim’s son, Stephen, to fulfill Jim’s vision of making the Servas spirit and adventure accessible to more people, especially our youth, with the ultimate goal of creating more peace in the world, one traveler at a time. 

  • March 04, 2023 11:08 AM | Deirdre Marlowe (Administrator)

    Are You Getting the Servas International News? 

    SI produces Servas News Bulletin on a quarterly basis. The most recent one was released as an email in January (Read Issue). It has been brought to our attention that some US Servas members are not receiving it. If you are not receiving the SI New Bulletin, please contact   

  • March 04, 2023 11:00 AM | Deirdre Marlowe (Administrator)

    This follows on March 4th's Solidarity Meeting. By now, we have all heard about the catastrophic earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Our very own, Radha Radhakrishna, President of Servas International, reached out to members in Turkey about the disaster. Their responses follow. 

    Message from Mehmet At eş, coordinator of the Servas Peace School and member of SI Youth and families Committee 

    This is Mehmet Ateş, coordinator of Servas Peace School in my village of Ekinci, Antakya-Hatay Turkey. The epicentre was in Gaziantep.  Gaziantep is around 200 km from Ekinci. Images from nearby town of Dyarbakir on TV shows how terrible it is. The problem is that the buildings are not earthquake proof, otherwise the loss of human lives would not have been so dramatic.   

    The region is Antakya. The nearest airport to Ekinci is Hatay airport, which is now closed because the destroyed tarmac uplifted, due to the tremors. So, the runway has been closed for flight operations. 

    My village and Antakya are 60 km far from the border with Syria. We have casualties but less than in the city center. Victims in city center urgently and desperately need more search and rescue teams. Secondly, heaters, tents and blankets. The best way to send help is to do it via reliable organizations who act fast to reach the earthquake zones: Turk Kizilay Is one we choose. Thank you …  Servas is a real solidarity... 

    Message from Gülşen Elyak, National Secretary, Servas Turkey and member of SI Internal Audit Committee 

    Dear Radha and all the Servas members who are so intent to help and who reached out immediately to let us know that we are not alone... our gratitude is indescribable. As Mehmet, Esra, Tuana and the other witnesses of this disaster point out, we really need help physically and spiritually. Thank you so much for giving your support so freely and so humanly.  

    Unfortunately, hundreds of aid organizations appear after every bad incident, so we will share with you the aid channel we trust most.  Visit the  Ahbap  (Dude) website make a donation. 

  • January 07, 2023 8:38 PM | Richard Weaver (Administrator)

    A photograph of the cover of The Cookbook in Support of the United Nations for People & Planet   showing a stew featuring cashew nuts.

    The Cookbook in Support of the United Nations for People & Planet compiled by Earlene Cruz presented at COP 27 in November is now available on Amazon and at Whole Foods. Proceeds support efforts to improve our food system and support the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and farmers. 

    The NYT describes this remarkable book containing 75 recipes from around the world as “sustainably minded.” After Earlene Cruz lost her wallet in Accra, and had her first taste of red-red stew, she decided to become a social entrepreneur. Ms. Cruz founded the Kitchen Connection Alliance, a platform where people can interactively share culinary and agricultural practices with a goal of empowering people with the knowledge to contribute to a better food system. Before embarking on her current mission, Ms. Cruz, a longtime SERVAS member, enjoyed a SYLE in Italy on a Mogerman scholarship, and served on the US SERVAS board. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at NYU’s School of Global Public Health.

    In addition to the recipes, The Cookbook is beautifully illustrated and provides the background of recipe contributors. It is focused on food inequity and insecurity through a partnership with Action Against Hunger. Its goal is SDG2 – the elimination of hunger! The book, which is sponsored by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Whole Foods, and the UN Food & Agricultural Organization is divided into 5 sections: food systems; biodiversity; sustainable consumption; food and climate change; and reducing food waste. 

  • December 20, 2022 10:52 AM | Richard Weaver (Administrator)

    Teresa Crockett

    US Servas member Teresa Crockett, our 2022 National Conference organizer was recently interviewed in Voyage Utah Magazine.

  • October 23, 2022 2:20 PM | Deirdre Marlowe (Administrator)

    Servas Youth & Family Camp 2022 in Puntalezzo, Sicily.

    In August, nearly 70 people attended this year’s his year's Servas Youth & Family Camp. Attendees came from Italy, Turkey, Mexico, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, Botswana, Germany and the United Kingdom to live the Servas values of multi-cultural sharing and multi-generational friendships.

    The camp followed sustainable practices – every effort was made to leave nothing behind but footprints. Limited wi-fi led to increased togetherness. Activities were created so that all could participate. Watch for announcements of the 2023 Servas Youth & Family Camp in the Servas International & US Servas Open Doors newsletters.

    - Information provided by Raffaella Rota and volunteers

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