Newsletter MARCH -APRIL 2022
Board members Frank, Shelby, and Donna want to welcome Fr. Sean back from his recent trip to Pro Vita where he assessed the situation regarding the influx of Ukrainian refugees, delivered much-needed medical devices and autism therapy tools, and interacted with all the children, many of whom he has known for years. It was essential for the Board to evaluate the impact that this addition of over 100 children and older adults fleeing Ukraine has had on the Romanian residents. And more refugees are expected in the coming weeks and months.
Many of the children had been institutionalized with a variety of physical and intellectual challenges near Odessa in southern Ukraine. They were evacuated with only the head of their orphanage and two caregivers, to supervise more than 60 Ukrainian/Russian-speaking children.
Many thanks to our corporate and individual donors who have responded so generously during this crisis. Two dozen colorful “HUG” blankets were donated by Penzeys Spice company (www.penzeys.com) and air shipped in just two days so Fr. Sean could hand carry them to Romania Check out the new photos in our website’s Gallery to see the happy recipients (AFPVO.org)
We are very grateful to our first-time donors:— Joel S. for the breathing devices for the kids with Cystic Fibrosis, Jayne D., Katie J., Joe T., Maia T., Ross P., Stephen D., Kellam G., Chris J., Anne D., Jennifer W., Sara S., and Kenneth L.
Building on the donor information in the 2021 Annual Report, we would also like to give a shout out to our sustaining contributors who have given Pro Vita between $3000 and $60,000 over the past seven years: Jennifer D., Roxana V., Donna S., Leigh and Dennis M., Phyllis S., and the Orthodox churches of St. Mary’s in Falls Church, VA and Minneapolis, Minnesota as well as the PTA of St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School (SSSAS) in Alexandria, VA..
Donors who have contributed $1000-$2999 include Kristen B., Donnie S., Alfred M., Narcis A., Wendell B., Fotini C., Dibby C., Ho K., Randall D., John G., Jamie & Beth M., Sara M., Adrienne F., and Jan H.. Several of these faithful supporters have contributed multiple times.
Some of the many multiple time contributors who have reached deep into their pockets, making donations totaling up to $1000 include Jill A., Sean C., Tony and LeeAnn C., Don S., MaryAnn S., Alan T., Georgeta M., Dee and Don M., Gerrie T., Tina C., Wilma D., Matt & Tim D./B., Emma D., John & Mary Beth F., Ben & Karen K., Ashley S., Julie A., Joyce Y., Susan T., Ed & Susan S., Terry & Terry K., Sarah T., James & Joan K., and Barbara & Harry H..
WE ARE SO VERY GRATEFUL TO ALL OF OUR DONORS. Thanks to all of you, AFPVO has been able to provide a financial lifeline to Pro Vita, building and maintainingg residences as the population has grown, keeping vehicles safe and available to transport in-kind donations from dedicated Romanians, and responding to the ever-changing regulations affecting congregate living during the COVID pandemic. Sincere apologies to any contributors inadvertently omitted or mis-characterized.
Your financial contributions have helped Pro Vita buy a used van. The basketball court at the Social Center is almost completed – just awaiting warmer weather to be finished. With the additional refugee children in residence, it’s sure to get plenty of use.
Refugee News: As of mid-March, Pro Vita has accommodated 62 Ukrainian children, mostly 8-15 years old and 60 older adults. Several arrivals have been moved to other locations for security reasons; currently all the unaccompanied minors, mothers with children, and 48 older adults are living at the Social Center, in a hostel in Valenii de Munte, and in various Pro Vita houses in the area. Valenii de Munte is a town of only 17,000 residents and the infusion of refugees with linguistic and cultural differences has not been entirely seamless. Some of the adults and the children who arrived traumatized by the war and their re-location have had difficulties adjusting to the strict rules governing congregate life in Pro Vita.
Even with the recent purchase of 40 bunkbeds, every bed is full. Fr. Sean had to bunk in a local hotel for the first time in 17 years!
Several of the children need psychiatric care, two have Cystic Fibrosis, and a number have autism in varying degrees. All are traumatized by the war and the dislocation. Fr. Sean was able to deliver two CF breathing aids, a suitcase filled with autism therapy tools and more than 20 “HUG” blankets. The Tanases are working with the local schools to “main stream” many of the children in the next few weeks. Unfortunately ,there are no Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) assisting with the assimilation of the refugees with the entire responsibility for acceptance and integration falling on the Tanases and Pro Vita’s Romanian staff.
Everyone is safe, housed, fed and the staff at all the Pro Vita locations are working very hard to ensure that the refugees are comfortable and adjusting to their new homes. What remains totally unknown is how long everyone will be staying at Pro Vita. More refugees are expected in the coming weeks. There is an expectation that some of the older adults will continue their migration westward.
One of the biggest challenges is the lack of a common language with the refugees speaking in Ukrainian and Russian with a bit of English and the Romanians speaking Romanian (no surprise) and some English. So far Google Translate has been the lifeline. Pro Vita needs more Ukrainian/Russian-speaking adults to provide additional supervision for the children, trained mental health workers, and translators to work with the refugees as they have medical and other appointments necessary to plan their futures.
Frank and Donna expect to travel to Pro Vita in late April (assuming the war does not expand) and will bring additional items identified as urgent needs as well as a case of toothpaste donated by our dentist. Thank you, Dr. Lenz!
We will send out refugee updates as we learn more. The Board has also agreed to begin a media campaign with local and national outlets to publicize the incredible work being accomplished at Pro Vita. If any of you have any contacts in the media that you are willing to share, please contact Donna Shelton at [email protected].
AFPVO’s 501 (c) (3) charter specifies our mission is to raise funds for “the acquisition and maintenance of capital assets”. We have interpreted that as bricks and mortar projects and large items such as commercial stoves and vehicles. We recognize that your donations have been made with that in mind. The Board believes that the war and resulting refugee crisis demand a broader interpretation of how your funds are allocated. Since the refugees are occupying Pro Vita buildings, we are authorizing the Tanases to use AFPVO funds for daily Pro Vita expenses, especially any associated with current and future refugee needs. We hope you agree with this decision and will continue your generous support.
Enjoy the Spring weather! Please pray for peace in Ukraine.
Fr. Sean Cavanaugh, Chairman
Donna Shelton, President
Frank Doe, Treasurer & Secretary
Shelby Stowers, Member at Large