January 31, 2020

2019: For Ukrainians in the U.S.: a multitude of major events


Guests and delegates of the inaugural Holodomor Forum in the U.S. on October 4-6 in Philadelphia. In the front row (seated) are Metropolitan Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A. and Michael Sawkiw Jr., chairman of the U.S. Holodomor Committee.

For Ukrainians in the U.S., notable events included Holodomor commemorations and exhibits, the 75th anniversary of the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee (UUARC), the 125th anniversary of the organized Ukrainian diaspora, the centennial of the unification of the Ukrainian National Republic and the Western Ukrainian National Republic, and the expanding work of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA).

The United Ukrainian American Relief Committee sent the first humanitarian aid shipment of 2019 to Ukraine on January 12. The shipment included medical equipment and supplies, medical consumables, surgical instruments, patient hospital beds with mattresses, regular and electric wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes, adult diapers, hygiene products, equipment for children with severe disabilities, clothing, shoes, linens and books. The items were distributed to Ukrainian soldiers and civilians who are suffering from the ongoing war in Ukraine. This particular shipment was intended for the Hospital for the Disabled of the War and Repressed in Vynnyky, Khodorovsky District Hospital, Zhuravnivsky Municipal Hospital, the Red Cross of Chortkiv, the Znamensky Children’s Boarding School, the Zaluchansky Orphanage, the Congregation of St. Vincent DePaul in Sniatyn, Social Services of the Sisters Servants in Lviv, and others who help the needy in Ukraine. The books were sent to the Kobrynsky Museum in Kolomyia and the Curia of the Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.

The UUARC announced its 75th anniversary celebrations would include a jubilee commemorative book and an official celebration on October 12 in Philadelphia. The organization, which has served the needs of the Ukrainian community in the diaspora and in Ukraine, was founded on January 22, 1944, during the second congress of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America in Philadelphia.

The UUARC celebrated its 75th anniversary on October 12 at the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center in Jenkintown, Pa. From aiding post-World War II Ukrainian refugees coming to the U.S., to the modern humanitarian aid shipments sent to Ukraine and to victims of natural disasters in the U.S., the organization has not strayed from its original motto, “Brother to Brother.” The event attracted more than 200 people and featured performances by the trio Strings by the Sea, the Prometheus Ukrainian Male Chorus, as well as piano duo Anna and Dmytro Shelest. Dr. Laryssa Kyj gave a historical overview of the organization and its program over the years, notably the “Adopt a Wounded Ukrainian Soldier,” as Ukraine defends its territory from Russian invasion. UUARC board members reminded that although much has been done, much still needs to be done, and this only happens because of the generosity of its volunteers and donors.

The UUARC’s 75th anniversary was acknowledged in an editorial in this newspaper, dated October 20, that commended the work of the organization. The editorial noted the organization’s founding through the UNA, the Providence Association of Ukrainian Catholics and the Ukrainian National Aid Association in 1944 as a separate non-political humanitarian aid organization to assist Ukrainian refugees during the second world war. The UUARC’s mission has adapted to the changing needs of Ukrainians in Europe and South America; its work has included aiding flood victims in Texas and Pennsylvania, as well as running an information bureau for newly arrived immigrants. The organization continues to aid immigrants, but also focuses on aiding Ukraine through humanitarian aid and medical equipment and funding PTSD treatment programs in Ukraine as well as physical and mental rehabilitation. The organization has remained faithful to its mission of “enhancing the quality of life of Ukrainian communities and individuals throughout the world.”


Holodomor events

A two-day conference, “Inciting Inquisitive Individuals,” organized by the Michigan Council of Social Studies was held on March 22-23 at Hope College in Holland, Mich. The Ukrainian community was represented by Doris Duzyj, a retired social studies consultant and education chair for the Ukrainian American Holodomor Committee of Michigan, and Vera Andrushkiw, president of the Detroit Regional Council of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UNWLA) and vice-president of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation. Their session, “The Genocide Canary: Recognizing When Food is Becoming Weaponized,” was explained through the lens of the Holodomor, the Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933. The documentary “When We Starve” by Dr. Borys Buniak was screened to explain the physiological and psychological effects of starvation.

The speakers informed the conference about Holodomor lesson plans for grades 6-12, and participants received flash drives with the four sections on the Holodomor, as well as supportive documents. The presentations also promoted civic engagement and advocacy against hunger and genocide, citing publications by the United Nations and outlining 14 risk factors and an accompanying set of specific indicators. Assisting the presentation was Dr. Olena Danylyuk, a member of the Holodomor committee, who prepared the PowerPoint presentations and handout materials.

The U.S. Committee for Holodomor-Genocide Awareness (U.S. Holodomor Committtee) announced Holodomor advocacy days throughout state capitals and major cities in early May to promote a Holodomor curriculum within the public school systems across all 50 states. Other advocacy efforts encouraged executive proclamations/legislative resolutions recognizing the Holodomor as genocide against the Ukrainian people.

The U.S. Holodomor Committee issued a call to action in 2019 in an attempt to have the Pulitzer Prize Committee strip Walter Duranty, the Moscow correspondent of The New York Times during the Holodomor, of the prize awarded to him for his reporting. The action item urged contacting editors of newspapers, magazines, television, radio stations and through social media. In 2003 a similar effort was made, and rejected by the Pulitzer Prize Committee. Evidence, cited in the A.W. Klieforth Memoradum, showed that Duranty was not reporting what he saw, but what Stalin wanted people to see.

The U.S. Committee for Holodomor-Genocide Awareness hosted a Holodomor Forum on October 4-6 in Philadelphia. The forum served as a working session for advocates to jointly lay out a blueprint to increase awareness of the Holodomor by: introducing a Holodomor curriculum at the state and local levels; advocating recognition of the Holodomor as a genocide; working to revoke The New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty’s Pultizer Prize; and increase media exposure of the Holodomor. Meetings acknowledged the progress on Holodomor awareness to date, including the Holodomor Memorial in Washington, annual commemorations at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, and the film “Mr. Jones” that depicts the life of Gareth Jones, the Welsh journalist who wrote about the Holodomor. Workshops were dedicated to incorporating the Holodomor into the educational curriculum, revoking Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize and media awareness. The documentary “When We Starve” by Dr. Buniak was screened and followed by a discussion.

During the concluding dinner, Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich) was presented the inaugural Holodomor Awareness Award for his leadership and dedication to the Holodomor Memorial bill in the U.S. Congress. In presenting the award, Mr. Sawkiw said, “you are more than a friend to us – you are family.” As a result of the forum and to increase awareness for future generations, a Descendant’s Network of of Holodomor survivors was initiated by Olya Soroka of the Women’s Association for Defense of Four Freedoms for Ukraine. The closing presentation during the farewell luncheon was by Brian Whitmore of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), who underscored the need to portray the Holodomor as part and parcel of human and world history. A weeklong commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the installation of the Holodomor Memorial in Washington in 2020 was set for November.

The annual Holodomor commemoration at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York was on November 16, with a service led by the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches – Metropolitan Antony (UOC-U.S.A.), Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys (UCC), Archbishop Daniel (UOC-U.S.A.), Bishop Paul Chomnycky (UGCC Eparchy of Stamford), and Bishop Emeritus Basil Losten (UCC). Responses were sung by the Dumka Chorus of New York. Remarks were delivered by UCCA President Andriy Futey, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ukraine’s Ambassador  to the U.N. Volodymyr Yelchenko and Councilwoman Carlina Rivera (representing the East Village). The commemoration concluded with the singing of “Bozhe Velykyi Yedynyi” (also known as the “Prayer for Ukraine”).

Holodomor events for 2019 concluded with an exhibit in Naples, Fla., at the Holocaust Museum and Cohen Educational Center of Southwest Florida that ran from early September until December 17. It was the first-ever Holodomor exhibit at a Holocaust museum in the Western Hemisphere. The event was curated in partnership with the museum and the Naples Branch 136 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UNWLA). The museum has reached out to educate the public not only about the Holocaust, but other genocides as well.  The exhibit consisted of 22 panels providing historical background, with 16 panels dedicated to the Holodomor. The film “Stalin’s Secret Genocide” was on continuous display and a lecture by Prof. Timothy Snyder on October 20 provided additional insights. The exhibition received press coverage in print and radio. Materials for the exhibit were provided by the League of Ukrainian Canadians, the Canadian Holodmor National Awareness Tour and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.


UCCA activities

The Central Election Commission (CEC) again registered the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) to monitor the March 31 presidential elections in Ukraine. The UCCA is the only Ukrainian American community organization approved for such monitoring of the presidential elections. Its International Election Observer Mission (EOM) was headed by UCCA President Futey, with UCCA Vice-President Michael Sawkiw as deputy chair and Tamara Olexy as mission coordinator. Reno Domenico served as the UCCA’s chief observer. The mission was coordinated with the Ukrainian World Congress.

On March 31, the UCCA EOM officially registered 78 observers in nine oblasts – Dnipro, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kherson, Kyiv, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Ternopil and Zakarpattia – as well as at three diplomatic posts in the U.S. The UCCA reported that the voting process was conducted in a peaceful, transparent and democratic manner. Based on information from more than 700 polling stations, with 96 percent of precincts reporting, the UCCA said the polling stations’ performance was “good” or “very good.” There were very few irregularities reported, and those that were reported were not systemic in nature and did not impact the results. The UCCA’s EOM affirmed that the presidential election met international standards for a free and fair election that accurately reflects the will of the electorate.

Later in the year, the UCCA sought volunteer election observers for the snap parliamentary elections on July 21, following a decree on May 21 by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to dissolve Parliament.

The first Ukrainian Day advocacy event of 2019 was held on June 12 in Washington, coordinated by the Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS) – the Washington-based information arm of the UCCA. Nearly 50 participants from 11 states met with their elected congressmen and senators to promote issues of concern and to push their elected officials for a more robust sanctions regime and enhanced U.S. assistance to Ukraine. Among the topics of concern to Ukrainian Americans: sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project; increased defensive military aid to Ukraine; increased sanctions against Russia through the Defending American Security Against Kremlin Aggression Act of 2019 (DASKAA); diversification in the European energy sector; resolutions commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Revolution of Dignity; and the inclusion of additional members to the Ukraine caucuses in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

An evening reception at the Russell Senate Office Building honored elected officials for their efforts to support greater U.S-Ukraine relations. The Friend of UNIS Award was presented to Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, who advocated for greater cybersecurity assistance to Ukraine. Also present during the advocacy event were a dozen students from the Youth Civics Group of the Ukrainian Heritage School of the Philadelphia metropolitan region.

The UCCA issued a statement addressed to President Donald Trump on June 18 in anticipation of his one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, on June 28-29. The letter reminded President Trump of Russia’s illegal seizure of Ukrainian vessels and sailors in November 2018 in the Kerch Strait, and how President Trump had postponed his sidebar meeting with Mr. Putin at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2018. The letter requested President Trump to strongly condemn Russia’s aggressive acts against Ukraine, including the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014; to significantly increase sanctions against the Russian Federation for its continued malign activities in Ukraine; and to condemn the illegal imprisonment of over 70 Ukrainian political prisoners by the Russian Federation and to call for their immediate release. The letter also cited the U.S.’s moral obligation under the Budapest Memorandum to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.

The UCCA president visited the Ukrainian community in Oregon on July 9-10, including the Ukrainian American Cultural Association (UACA) of Oregon and Southwest Washington. During their discussions, Mr. Futey encouraged the UACA to join the UCCA to better represent all Ukrainian Americans. He also met with the management and employees of two Pacific Northwest branches of the Ukrainian Federal Credit Union (in Portland, Ore., and in Federal Way, Wash.), highlighting the UCCA’s longstanding collaboration with the Ukrainian National Credit Union Association (UNCUA) – a UCCA member-organization. Mr. Futey also spoke to the Ukrainian American community on two live radio programs on “Nashe Radio,” stressing community unity and various ways the UCCA supports the community and its issues of concern. He also met with parishioners of the Ukrainian Bible Church, a large Pentecostal congregation in Fairview, Ore. Through expanding the UCCA network to include the Pacific Northwest, the UCCA can wield much more influence in Washington and have greater ability to assist our brethren in Ukraine, Mr. Futey noted.

Manor College was welcomed as a member-organization of the UCCA on July 12. The unanimous acceptance of Manor College as a member organization was made official on June 15 during the biannual meeting of the UCCA National Council. “As UCCA continues to work towards unifying the Ukrainian American community, I am delighted to welcome Manor College as our newest member organization, and look forward to their active involvement and to the many contributions they will make,” said UCCA President Futey.

The UCCA issued a statement on August 21, strongly denouncing President Trump’s suggestion on August 20 that he would look favorably on Russia’s re-admittance to the G-7. Similar proposals made by Mr. Trump in 2018 were also denounced by the UCCA. The UCCA’s statement reminded Mr. Trump that in 2014 the G-7 cancelled its planned summit in Sochi, Russia, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula – “the first forced annexation Europe has seen since the second world war.” The G-7 countries issued the Hague Declaration in 2014, which unequivocally tied Russia’s expulsion from the G-7 to its illegal actions in Ukraine. The UCCA reiterated that Russia’s actions have only continued to undermine democracy in Europe. “…Russia must remain suspended from membership in the group of the world’s largest advanced economies, as its actions in Ukraine contravene the principles and values on which the G-7 operates.” The statement added that the president of the U.S.A., “must take the lead in promoting international norms, defending basic human rights and freedoms, and charting a course of geopolitical stability.” At the same time, the UCCA encouraged Mr. Trump to visit Ukraine.

The UCCA welcomed the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA) as its newest member-organization on December 7 during a meeting of the UCCA National Council in New York. The UCCA-UABA partnership is expected to enhance relationships with legal experts, judges, prosecutors and legal scholars in Ukraine and in Washington  and to better promote Ukraine’s security and continued development as a sovereign democracy governed by the rule of law.


Centennial of unification

The centennial of the unification of the Ukrainian National Republic and the Western Ukrainian National Republic on January 22, 1919, was marked by nearly 300 members of the Ukrainian American community in Chicago on January 20. Organized by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America Illinois Division, the gathering attracted three members of Congress (all Democrats) representing Illinois – Reps. Mike Quigley, Danny Davis and Sean Casten.

Iryna Yatsyshyn

At Chicago’s celebration on January 20 of the centennial of Ukraine’s Act of Union of January 22, 1919 (from left) are: Steve Demitro, Paul Bandriwsky, Kateryna Smagliy, Rep. Mike Quigley, Marta Farion, Glen Howard, Rep. Sean Casten, the Rev. Victor Poliarny, Maria Korkatsch-Groszko and Jerry Dutkewych.

Annual awards for community service and dedication for 2019 were presented to Olya Soroka, the Rev. Victor Poliarny, Dr. Vasyl Lonchyna and Dr. Roxolana Lonchyna, Yuriy Soroka and Walter Tun. A special award was presented by UCCA Illinois to Bohdan Watral, former president/CEO of Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union. The event was emceed by Marta Farion, and presentations were made by Glen Howard, president of the Jamestown Foundation, and Kateryna Smagliy of the McCain Institute.


125th of organized diaspora

The Ukrainian National Association (UNA), was in the spotlight at an event marking more than 125 years of the Ukrainian diaspora community that was held at the Princeton Club in New York on September 21. More than 100 participants attended the conference, “Ukrainian Historical Encounters Series Special Event: Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Organized Ukrainian American Community,” that was sponsored by the Center for U.S.-Ukrainian Relations (CUSUR) and the UCCA, as well as the UNA, which in 2019 celebrated its 125th anniversary of its founding. Six panel discussions profiled various aspects of the organized community – foundation stones, religious life, cultural life, youth organizations, academia, and financial institutions and charitable foundations.

Matthew Dubas

Stefan Kaczaraj, president/CEO of the Ukrainian National Association, Roma Lisovich, chief financial officer/treasurer of the UNA, and Prof. Walter Zarycky, program coordinator of the conference “Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Organized Ukrainian American Community” at the Princeton Club in New York on September 21.

A working luncheon featured guest speaker Prof. Alexander Motyl, whose address, “Taking Measure of the Significance of the Ukrainian American Community to Ukraine,” highlighted the diaspora’s efforts to influence Washington in improving relations between the U.S. and Ukraine. Prof. Motyl also noted the effort of the diaspora to improve institutions of higher learning in Ukraine, including the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. The future, he said, will need to incorporate the Fourth Wave of immigrants into diaspora organizations.

The “foundation stones” panel included the UNA, the UNWLA and the UCCA – the “core of the community at large,” as noted by Mr. Futey. The panel on religious life featured presentations by the Rev. Dr. Ivan Kaszczak of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, and the Rev. Anthony Perkins of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who chronicled each Church’s history in the U.S., and the role of religious institutions in the formation of an organized diaspora. The cultural life included panelists from The Ukrainian Museum in New York, the Ukrainian Museum-Archives of Cleveland, the Ukrainian National Museum (Chicago) and the Ukrainian Institute of America (New York) and the role that these organizations and institutions have played in preserving historical and cultural memory, as well as reaching new audiences beyond the Ukrainian community. The panel on Ukrainian youth organizations featured presentations by Eugene Luciw (American-Ukrainian Youth Civics and Public Policy Club; and Tryzub Ukrainian Sports Center), Adam Hapij (Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization), Adrian Dlaboha (Ukrainian American Youth Association), and Prof. Nicholas Skirka (Ukrainian Sports Club of N.Y.). Academia panelists included Prof. Mark Andryczyk (Columbia University), Dr. Lubomyr Hayda (Harvard University), Dr. Anna Procyk (Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences) and Dr. Motyl (Shevchenko Scientific Society). The panelists noted the loss of Dr. Mark von Hagen, who was a leading scholar in promoting Ukrainian studies. The sixth panel on financial institutions and charitable foundations included panelists Andrij Horbachevsky (SUMA Yonkers Federal Credit Union), Bohdan Kurczak (Self Reliance New York Federal Credit Union), Paul Bandriwsky (Heritage Foundation at First Security Savings) and Motria Bojko Watters (United Ukrainian American Relief Committee).

Matthew Dubas

The 125th anniversary of the Ukrainian National Association is marked with a photo display showcasing the organization’s rich and vast historic moments on September 21 at the Princeton Club in New York.

A cocktail reception was held followed by a performance of the Dumka Chorus of New York, which marked its 70th anniversary in 2019. The conference banquet featured keynote addresses delivered by Ambassador Chaly and Herman Pirchner, president of the American Foreign Policy Council.

The banquet and reception capped off a worthy celebration of the organized Ukrainian diaspora that has flourished since its founding more than 125 years ago. Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys led the invocation and Dr. Mykhailo Cherenkov delivered the benediction. Participants wished another 125 years to be celebrated in the future as they sang “Mnohaya Lita” and the Ukrainian national anthem.


Revolution of Dignity fifth anniversary

More than 100 people gathered at the Holodomor Memorial in Washington on February 17 to honor the Heavenly Hundred, who were killed in Kyiv during the Revolution of Dignity in 2013-2014. Leading the commemoration were Ambassador Chaly, Inci Bowman of the International Committee for Crimea, Mr. Sawkiw of the Ukrainian National Information Service, Ilona Doerfler of U.S-Ukrainian Activists, and George Sajewych of United Help Ukraine, who was seriously injured during the protests in Kyiv. A memorial service was led by Archbishop Daniel of the UOC-U.S.A., who was joined by clergy from the Washington-area Orthodox and Catholic churches.

More than 400 people commemorated the Heavenly Hundred on February 20 at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, N.J. The memorial service was led by Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel of the UOC-U.S.A., as well as Bishop Paul Chomnycky of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, Conn. Joining the commemoration was President Petro Poroshenko, who was in the U.S. on a working visit and toured the spiritual center of the UOC-U.S.A. Metropolitan Antony thanked Mr. Poroshenko for his leadership of Ukraine and emphasized: “The world should know that generations of Ukrainians remember that Heroes do not die … They continue to live in the memory of the nation and be an example for future heroes who make history.”

On the same day as the commemoration, an icon exhibit, “Buy an Icon – Save a Life” by Kyivan artists Sofia Atlantova and Oleksandr Klymenko, was held at the Pokrova Sisterhood Hall. The icons were written on ammunition boxes and the sale benefitted the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital, which had served over 56,000 patients. Archbishop Daniel underscored the transformation of death into life, as symbolized by the icons on ammo boxes. “What is important, this victory of life over death happens not only on the figurative and symbolic level, but also in reality,” he said.

The fifth anniversary of the Revolution of Dignity and the sacrifices of the Heavenly Hundred during those protests were also honored on February 22 in Chicago at the Ukrainian National Museum with an event, “Heroes Do Not Die,” organized by the UCCA Illinois Division and the Consulate General of Ukraine in Chicago. More than 200 people participated in the commemoration that featured candles, barricades, piano, drums, church bells, music, recollections, hot tea and the late Viktor Hurniak’s photo exhibition. At a candlelight vigil, led by Bishop Venedykt Aleksiychuk of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy, people offered prayers for family, friends and fellow citizens of Ukraine who lost their lives during the Euro-Maidan.


Ukrainian American Veterans

A fact-finding visit to Washington coordinated between the Ukrainian American Veterans (UAV) and the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington brought Iryna Friz, minister of veteran affairs for Ukraine, to New Haven, Conn., and Washington. During the visit on February 27-March 4, the minister learned from the Ukrainian American Veterans and the Veterans Administration in the U.S., how to meet challenges of creating a new ministry from scratch and helping those who bravely serve Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression. The aim of the visit was to reduce redundancy in the various Ukrainian government organizations tasked with veterans affairs. Part of the plan is to update the list of all veterans and to create an e-portal for veterans to access services. Through these online services the government hopes to be able to track and evaluate outcomes of the new programs and services. Ms. Friz  said she was coordinating with Dr Ulana Suprun, acting minister of health, to address mental health treatments for veterans, especially PTSD. While in Washington, Ms. Friz held meetings on Capitol Hill, toured VA hospitals and veterans centers, and met with Ukrainian community and relief organizations. Ms. Friz also met with Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Mark Tokano (D-Calif.), and the office of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), as well as U.S. Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs Robert Wilkie and Ted Diaz, head of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at the VA. Ms. Friz learned about the various services provided by the VA, including geriatric care and burial arrangements.

At the VA Hospital in Washington (from left) are: UAV Post 26 (District of Columbia) Commander Roman Fontana, Ukraine’s Military Attaché Col. Andrii Ordynovych, Post 33 (New Haven ) Commander Carl Harvey, Ukraine’s Veterans Affairs Minister Iryna Friz, Col. Oksana Havryliuk, UAV Welfare Officer Myron Melnyk and Ukrainian Military Attaché Volodymyr Humeniuk during a fact-finding visit on February 27 through March 4.

Ms. Friz also toured a VA Hospital in West Haven, Conn., and its connected community care facility, as well as a Connecticut’s State Veterans Center. In Philadelphia, the Ukrainian delegation met with groups that assist Ukraine’s soldiers and veterans, and their families, to better coordinate aid and proposals on new projects.  At a luncheon hosted by the UUARC, Ms. Friz expressed her gratitude to the UUARC for its support and humanitarian assistance, including adopt help for wounded soldiers, families with children orphaned by the war and aid families of the Heavenly Hundred. Also in Philadelphia, she met with members of UAV Post 1 of Philadelphia and Post 42 of Lehigh Valley at the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center. She later met with the Ukrainian Federation of America, which assists soldiers recovering from the aftereffects of war. On March 3, she met with the Ukrainian community at St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church in New Haven, Conn., stressing the need to support Ukraine’s soldiers from the battlefield to the home front after discharge from service. Ms. Friz learned about the VETSROCK job fair and placement conference at Mohegan Sun casino, and said she would like something similar to be organized in Ukraine.


Ukrainian Medical Association of North America

The Foundation of the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (UMANA Foundation) donated $10,000 to support and expand the University of Illinois at Chicago Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Training program in Ukraine, with training Ukrainian physicians and the establishment of BMT programs in Kyiv and Lviv. On March 5, Drs. Mara Krycelak, foundation president, and George Hrycelak, UMANA executive director, met with the university’s Drs. Damiano Rondelli, Daniel Hryhorczuk and Patricia Finn, chair of the Department of Medicine, to deliver the donation to the Global BMT training program at the UIC College of Medicine. The funds were raised from UMANA’s annual Debutante Banquet and Ball held by the Illinois branch in Chicago. The debutantes for 2019 had chosen to help Ukraine develop its own BMT program.

The UMANA held its 45th Scientific Conference and 38th Assembly of Delegates on June 19-23 in Park City, Utah. The convention attracted 65 attendees representing nine chapters of UMANA. The conference focused on “Current Concepts in Emergent Care – Emergent Threats to Medicine,” sponsored by the Trinitas Regional Medical Center of Elizabeth, N.J. During the business portion of the convention, reports were heard from UMANA officers and committees. The organization has grown, with over 50 new members joining in the last 24 months. The newly elected officers for 2019-2021 are: President Dr. Peter Lenchur, President-elect Dr. Leo Woalnsky, Vice-President Dr. Marta Lopatysky, Secretary Dr. Lida Wozny, and Treasurer Dr. Roman Kozickyj. The keynote address on “Physician Burnout” was delivered by Dr. Ihor Sawczuk, and a traditional “roast” feted outgoing president Dr. Andrew Ripecky (who was awarded for his service to the association).


Credit unions

Self Reliance New York Federal Credit Union held its 68th annual meeting on March 17 at St. George Academy in New York. The meeting attracted 263 registered members, along with representatives of many youth, religious, cultural and educational organizations. Mr. Kurczak, president/CEO of the credit union, noted that assets as of the end of 2018 were $1.3 million and that net income for 2018 was $10.6 million. Dividends paid to members grew by 5 percent from 2017, totaling $23.3 million, and at the end of 2018, the credit union had 15,272 members. Donations for 2017 totaled $1.1 million to support youth, cultural, religious, educational and humanitarian organizations.

The credit union has branches in Astoria, Uniondale, Lindenhurst and Kerhonkson, and is headquartered in Manhattan. Stefan Kaczaraj and Adam Hapij were unanimously re-elected to three-year terms on the Board of Directors. Catherine Popovech was elected board chairperson.

The annual meeting of the Chicago-based Selfreliance Federal Credit Union on March 31 attracted 146 members – 96 in Chicago and 50 in New Jersey. In 2018, the credit union saw its longtime president/CEO Mr. Watral retire and the appointment of incoming President/CEO Vitaly Kutnyy. Additionally, Michigan’s Ukrainian Future Credit Union merged with Selfreliance FCU. Dr. Michael R. Kos, chairman of the board, reported another profitable year for the credit union thanks to its management and staff. For 2018, Mr. Watral stated, Selfreliance FCU’s net income surpassed $2.4 million and equity exceeded $589 million. Mr. Watral (treasurer), Roman Yatskovskyy (member) and John Oharenko (member) were re-elected to the board of directors.

The Ukrainian National Credit Union Association (UNCUA) held its 38th annual meeting in Washington on June 6-8. Participants representing 12 Ukrainian American credit unions in the U.S. lobbied their legislators on Capitol Hill, attended presentations on current topics of interest to credit union leaders and elected a new board of directors. Elected to lead the 2019-2020 UNCUA Board of Directors were: Andrij Horbachevsky (chairman), Mr. Kurczk (vice-chairman), George Stachiw (secretary), and Stephen Kerda and Mr. Watral, Executive Committee members.

Delegates of the 38th annual meeting of the Ukrainian National Credit Union Association in Washington on June 6-8, with honored guests Patriarch Sviatoslav and Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.

On September 26 the Ukrainian Federal Credit Union held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new branch in Matthews. N.C., just outside of Charlotte. The event began with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, an opening prayer by Deacon Pavel Borishkevich of Good News Church, as well as remarks by Mayor Paul F. Bailey. Also present was UCCA President Futey. Oleg Lebedko, CEO of the credit union, said the opening of the branch marked a new chapter in the 65-year history of this credit union founded in 1953 by Ukrainian Americans in Rochester, N.Y. The credit union has 21,000 members, its assets exceed $260 million, and it has 12 full-service branch offices nationwide (N.Y., Massachusetts, Ohio, N.C., California, Oregon and Washington).


Other major stories

Three winners of the Miss Ukrainian N.J. competition, organized by the UNWLA Branch 137 of Clifton, N.J. on November 11, 2018, served as ambassadors of the UNWLA during the Kraina Win-Win program on January 9-16. The winners were Yuliya Voznyuk (Miss Ukrainian N.J.), Anna Rak (second runner-up and Miss Popularity), and Kamila Ivashko (Miss Personality). UNWLA President Marianna Zajac commended the work of Branch 137 and said she hoped the event would inspire other branches with similar projects. The Kraina Win-Win program, founded by Go Great NGO, aims to create a network for local communities in the diaspora for advocating Ukrainian issues on both the national and international levels. The UNWLA organizers, through this effort, hope to promote volunteering and charitable work among the younger generation. The competition winners toured a military hospital in Kyiv, the Nazareth rehabilitation hospital and the Dzherelo Children’s Rehabilitation Center, and met with acting Minister of Health Dr. Suprun.

The measure and definition of success was the topic of discussion at “Hourglass: Success Stories,” at the inaugural event of the Ukrainian American Business and Professionals Association (UABPA) on February 23 at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York. Key speakers were entrepreneurs Leonard Mazur (Citius Pharma­ceuticals) and Yaroslav Azhnyuk (Petcube), and the discussion was moderated by Ivana Lotoshynski, president of People Wealth Matters LLC and chair of the UABPA board. Mr. Mazur noted his humble beginnings in the U.S., as an immigrant with his parents, and how he was helped in his education when the family fell on financially hard times. He has repaid that kindness with donations to various organizations, including Philadelphia’s West Catholic Prep School, which he attended. Mr. Anzhyuk cautioned against the delusion of money, fame or power as a measure of success, and urged more focus on harnessing their egos to create, to improve the lives of others, and to do something of use and value in the world.

Camp Bobriwka in Colebrook, Conn., officially opened its new canopy as part of the ongoing renovations in the mess hall on June 9 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Bobriwka President Andy Kebalo presented a donors’ commemorative plaque to be installed in the rafters of the new canopy. Walter Kebalo, the designer and construction manager, held a brief talk on the stage design, and answered any questions for visitors. The event was capped by a cookout with hotdogs and hamburgers, washed down with various Ukrainian beers. The camp regularly hosts the Bandura at Bobriwka Reunion and the Orlando Pagan School of Ukrainian Dance Workshop.

Parishioners at Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Catholic Church in Palatine, Ill., broke ground on July 7 for a new, expanded church that is set to open in 2020. The church is designated as the Eparchial Shrine of the New Martyrs of Ukraine for the St. Nicholas Eparchy. Bishop Venedykt celebrated the divine liturgy prior to the groundbreaking ceremony. The new church has been in the planning stages for 10 years.

Drs. Ihor Kurliets and Luke Tomycz spoke at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies on September 25 in Princeton, N.J. Hosted by Razom for Ukraine and the Slavic Studies Department, the event showcased how medicine and culture are transforming Ukraine. The Co-Pilot Project, an initiative of Razom since 2016, aims to bypass the outdated hospitals and corrupted health-care system.  Ukraine, in Dr. Kurilets’ assessment, needs to be taught how to fish rather than be given a fish. The program has been able to elevate consultations, operations and protocols to standards in the European Union and the U.S. It includes a training program for younger neurosurgeons, with internship opportunities in the U.S. and EU with the help of Razom for Ukraine; a Saturday Brain and Spine club – a weekly group training for young neurosurgeons; and construction of a new campus of the International Neurosurgery Center Clinic (founded in 2012) – the first hospital in Ukraine built by doctors without external investment. Dr. Kurliets underscored, “…we need your advice not only in neurosurgery. We need your experience in other medical specialties as well. Assistance in organizational questions, staff management, nursing care and rehabilitation is also important.”

Razom for Ukraine celebrated its fifth anniversary with an annual meeting at the Civic Hall in New York on October 6. Participants learned about the organization’s past activities and projects as well as plans for the future. Guests attending the meeting included Ukrainian veterans, who initiated the Invisible Battalion project – an advocacy campaign, a sociological research group and a civil rights project for gender equality in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Razom has partnered with the Invisible Battalion project and said it was an honor to have them speak at the meeting.