On August 28, 2022, Razom’s NYC Ukrainian Response Initiative team and New York Immigration Coalition hosted a fun family event at the Ukrainian National Home in the Ukrainian Village of New York City. Our goal was to encourage displaced Ukrainian children who recently arrived in NYC before the school year started. And the event theme was “Razom (Together) we are strong!”
It was a full house: 46 families with kids showed up with 77 people in total; 34 volunteers worked hard to make the event informational and fun. What’s more, almost half of the volunteers were displaced Ukrainians who arrived in NYC in February-May and were beneficiaries of our free immigration clinics – consultation meetings.
After registering, kids proceeded to pick school backpacks with supplies, wellness items, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair brushes, slime, play-dough, focus toys. The International Rescue Committee donated backpacks with supplies and Razom provided the wellness items thanks to a grant that the team recently received from Perrigo, a pharmaceutical company. And our long-time supporter – Veselka served delicious refreshments for everybody.
Parents had an opportunity to talk with representatives of the NYC Board of Education and a public school teacher about the NYC education system and the education process. Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM) brought a huge soft toy eagle and talked about its events and activities. A Ukrainian pediatrician gave print-outs with useful information about preparing for a school year and encouraged everybody to keep good posture and exercise their body and eyes. A health startup Ophycare, a provider of telemedicine, offered free appointments for attendees without health insurance.
Four large round tables were swarmed with kids and adults doing crafts and practicing in art therapy, led by wonderful volunteers – artist Mariia Lukashenko and psychologist Olga Dobrynina. Led by a Ukrainian singer Shanis, who participated in the Ukrainian Voice and did a voiceover for Elza in the Ukrainian version of Frozen, kids karaoke competition rocked the Ukrainian National Home with popular songs and Ukrainian classics such as “Stari Fotografii” by Skryabin. There were two kids who shared the first place and four more participants who got “silver.” Every kid received a cash gift card. Shanis beautifully singing “Let it go” in the end made the event special and encouraged those musically gifted kids to proceed with their passion.
When we took our final pictures, instead of saying “cheese” every voice joined the chorus thanking our heroes “Slava Ukraini – Heroyam Slava!” Everybody left asking when our next event would be, which will be posted to Razom’s calendar of events on Facebook, so stay tuned for our next event. We count it as a success!
Huge thanks to our partners, sponsors, and volunteers:
Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, New York Immigration Coalition, International Rescue Committee, NYC Department of Education, Ukrainian National Home, Veselka, CYM, and Staten Island Jewish Community Center, Ophycare. And personally to Andrij Stasiw, Tetiana Sirman, Ya Taras, Mariia Lukashenko, Olga Dobrynina, Olha Akmetova and her daughters Olena and Tetiana, Doctors Larysa and Ihor Mykhailov, Anastasia Ponomarenko and friend, Yuliya Dolich, Serhii Khorun, and Vasyl Khokhla.