Even after her years with the Peace Corps, Jean Byrd Stewart still kept volunteering and giving. She shaded her stories. Wrote a book.
There was a to-do in Washington, DC, after the women had been in 50 years. I had to write of my involvement at the Navy. All of us that spoke at that particular affair, that was supposed to have been put together in a book form. Some of them sent it back typed up and some didn’t. I still have mine. You should see the paper. Even when I went to Africa, that was something. I saved that. I can add that to my book. All those things blend together and come to something decent.
It wasn’t until late 2006 that Jean finally decided to stop volunteering.
I’ve done for others. As someone said, “Do for yourself.” And that’s not being selfish because I’ve given a lot of years to other people.
This is a copy of a commendation Jean received from the state of New Jersey. It comes from the collection of Jean Byrd Stewart.
In 1982, Jean Byrd Stewart volunteered yet again – this time with the Peace Corps. She was assigned to travel to the Philippines.
I went in as an agriculturist. Agriculturist, that’s what was needed. My father had a place and with eight children, 200 feet deep on both sides and you learned to plant and this and take care of it and keep the ground nourished and keep the weeds out. So I went in as an agriculturist. I have to work with the, around city hall, that was number one. Then work with the farmers, upgrading them, so that they could raise a good crop of rice and this and that and the other thing. Green grass and shrubbery to hold the dirt whenever it rained. That was all a part of it too.
They had a day care center and I had to help with the children. There was some that were malnourished. We had to give them a one bone meal to keep them alive and going. One lady was going to have a baby. She wanted me to deliver her baby because I had been in health. You were here, you were there and the other place. They had a day care center. I could hardly pass there, they were waving to me. I could hardly stop, because I had to go to the office and work. You were needed in so many places. The school needed someone to help raise money. Being from America, they knew I could touch and money would pop up. Money for tables, money for chairs, for the children to do their homework. The places they needed you and wanted you to work was endless.
This photograph comes from the collection of Jean Byrd Stewart.