May 19, 2017

The strength of the UNWLA

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Seen on the front page of our April 16 issue was a story headlined “Charitable Ukraine honors UNWLA as best provider of ‘Aid from Abroad.’ ” It reported that the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America had been honored by the Association of Charities of Ukraine with its top award in the Aid from Abroad category. The annual Charitable Ukraine competition strives to promote development of charitable activities in Ukraine by popularizing charitable work, patronage of such activity and volunteerism. In choosing the UNWLA to receive one of its beautiful “Angel of Goodness” statuettes, the association was recognizing the great body of good works performed by this Ukrainian American organization founded in 1925.

And what are those good works? Sponsoring recreational camps for families of soldiers serving in Ukraine’s anti-terrorist operation (ATO); helping to fund training courses on the treatment of traumatic injuries; becoming a major donor to the trauma therapy center at the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU); aiding orphanages and orphans; helping the aged and the needy; supporting families of fallen heroes; securing medical treatment for pediatric burn victims; and much, much more.

Yes, indeed, the UNWLA has many projects that aid the people of Ukraine, but it also has programs that support Ukrainians wherever they may live and need a helping hand. One of the most notable is the UNWLA Scholarship Program, which this year celebrates a remarkable 50th anniversary – five decades of helping Ukrainian students in Poland, Brazil, Argentina, Ukraine and other countries. Most recently we witnessed first hand the far-reaching effects of this program as a local pastor, originally from Ukraine, recalled the organization’s scholarship aid when he was a young seminarian in Rome.

And then there is the UNWLA’s valuable work in the sphere of cultural and educational activity. In 1933, the UNWLA organized an exhibition at the Chicago World’s Fair that presented Ukrainian folk art to the American public. In 1976, the UNWLA founded The Ukrainian Museum, which certainly ranks as one of the greatest achievements of the Ukrainian diaspora. In 2011, the UNWLA began its endowment for women’s/gender studies at UCU.

All the aforementioned activities are in keeping with the organization’s purpose, which includes: fostering the Ukrainian cultural heritage and promoting knowledge of Ukrainian culture; providing financial assistance to Ukrainians within and outside the United States; and maintaining ties with Ukrainian, American and international organizations for educational and charitable purposes. The UNWLA’s branches throughout the United States – and there are over 80 of them – support and augment this work by pursuing diverse initiatives (art exhibits, preschools, commemorations of historical events and folk art workshops are among those that come to mind) within their own communities in accordance with local interests and needs.

Thus, the upcoming UNWLA convention’s slogan, “Our membership – our strength,” is certainly apt. As the organization’s president, Marianna Zajac, explained: “This slogan identifies the foundation and reason for our joint successes… but also points out possibilities for the future. Each of our members offers her own talents to our joint effort, and it is because of these individual diverse talents and generous hearts that our achievements have been so broad, so meaningful.”

As members head to the XXXI UNWLA Convention in Tampa, Fla., over Memorial Day weekend, we wish them and their organization many more years of success as they continue to fulfill the UNWLA’s noble mission.

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