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Peace Corps volunteer needs community's help

By Natasha Clark

Assistant Managing Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW Brendan Duprey is hoping that a little Pioneer Valley compassion will be felt in Bulgaria.

The 26-year-old Peace Corps volunteer and East Longmeadow resident is doing his best to create an environmental resource center at Saint Kiril and Metodi School in Garmen. The resource center will provide educational training, activities and awareness to its students. Classes will be taught with regards to environmental protection and conservation. Furthermore, the schools EcoClub will use the EcoCenter as a meeting room where activities such as lecturers and environmental movies will be provided.

"The project helps an underserved segment of the population (Gypsies) who are very poor and have no resources to implement such a project due to lack of funds. This project will help children through educating them and giving them a sense of pride in their school," Duprey said.

The municipality contains huge quantities of natural resources; however, the protection of these resources is not efficient. Duprey said illegal timber harvesting is common amongst the Gypsy families, causing soil erosion and habitat loss.

"Litter and illegal dumps can be found throughout the municipality and it is common to see people littering. These activities cannot be changed without proper education of the youth on the importance of environmental conservation. The idea for such a center was developed by several teachers along with the schools EcoClub members," Duprey explained. "This initiative provides a great opportunity for the development of a sustainable environmental resource center that can provide educational training, activities and awareness for generations to come. Thus, changing the dynamic between the environment and people with regards to the natural world and their actions toward it."

If Duprey is able to raise $3,344 for the center by the May 1 deadline, then he can go forward with the planned grand opening week in June titled, "The Environment and Us: Days of Caring." The indefinite week will include various guest lecturers and activities for the students. Each day will consist of a specific theme with homework and activities for the specified topics, and environmental education training for teachers. The school consists of 240 students ranging from grades one to 12.

Materials purchased with donations will include a book shelf, environmental books (environmental encyclopedia along with various conservation books), environmental documentary CDs (on everything from global warming to deforestation), a white board, a television, a DVD player, a television stand, tables and chairs, five microscopes with biological slides, paint and a new door.

Residents interested can donate money directly through the Peace Corps Web site, All donations are tax deductible.

"The people within our community have the chance to directly aid in helping an underdeveloped nation. Finally, it is in the spirit of giving that you will receive," Duprey added.