Frank and Donna returned from their second visit to Pro Vita in 2022. Fr. Sean has also visited twice this year. Board members have visited more often than usual to demonstrate our support and assess the impact of the Ukrainian refugees on the Pro Vita community. New pictures of the residents and life at Pro Vita are posted in the Gallery.
We are pleased to report that there has been continuous improvement in the assimilation of the Ukrainian refugees, and Pro Vita continues to flourish despite the financial and staffing challenges of incorporating the 100+ additional residents.
Almost all the adolescent refugees (50-ish) are now in Romanian schools. Several are mainstreamed with the majority enrolled in the special education school in Valenii de Munte. The teens are generally happy to be attending school, and life in the Social Center and in Posesti is quiet with the kids occupied elsewhere for 4-7 hours a day. The Tanases are still awaiting the arrival of another 20-25 Ukrainian teenage boys who are in the process of being transferred from an overcrowded Romanian State institution. Several of the transferees are HIV + so working out the medical issues is slowing down the process. Fr. Roman, the caregivers, and the 35 elderly Ukrainian refugees from the Donbas are still well-ensconced in the large house in Valea Plopului. An addition to the house has been completed and is now a main-floor dorm room for five of the elderly.
All of the Romanian paperwork has been completed and the state subsidies are being received for the Ukrainian as well as for the Romanian children. Unfortunately, the subsidies only cover about 15% of the actual monthly costs to house, feed, and clothe each child.
The female Ukrainian refugees from Kiliya are currently housed in two of the houses in Posesti, which is being managed by Gavriil and Ana Tanase. Elderly Romanians occupy the other two houses and the fifth house has the common kitchen, dining room, and recreational space. Gavriil and Ana are trying to acquire some adjacent farmland to build additional housing . The Posesti community is incorporated as a subsidiary of Asociatia Pro Vita, Asociatia Sfantul Brancoveanu (www.provitasfantulbrancoveanu.org).
Despite the amazing Ukrainian battlefield success, it appears that the Ukrainian refugees are likely to remain at Pro Vita for the longer term. The 100+ additional people stress the system and the budget but are now “family”. Given this situation, current priorities and future plans are focused on absorbing and accommodating the special needs of the diverse refugee community while continuing to address the needs of the Romanian beneficiaries.
Many thanks to the Bucharest office of KPMG who arranged for the donation of more than 40 new bikes, sized to fit the residents at the Social Center. Each bike came with a helmet (!) and an identifying label with the child’s name and age. They are being well-cared for now that they “belong” to specific children. Additionally, Pro Vita has replaced the dangerously over-used and broken trampolines with several new ones that are heavily used during the nice weather. Kids are flipping for hours on the new tramps.
The new house scheduled to be built on existing Social Center property has been delayed as Mihail shepherds the approval process through the local bureaucracy. We are collecting funds to underwrite the entire $50,000 of estimated costs. Still searching for a name that reflects AFPVO’s support! We are evaluating offering to “sell” parts of the eventual construction to “named donors”. Your thoughts??
As we departed the Social Center in early October, the logistics of installing the top layer of flooring on the external corridors was being worked out. The residents have to leave the Social Center for 3 days during installation and “curing” of the planking. That needs to happen during a school break and where to go to is a big question. The Tanases were also awaiting a date for installation of the final layer on the basketball court — hopefully before winter sets in.
The Ukrainian institution in Kiliya, where all the teens were before the war, is still rotating teachers to Pro Vita. Antuanetta Z., who was there when we visited in April 2022, was on a 30 day leave when we visited this time but planned to return in early November. Replacements, Oksana and Ludmilla, were filling in very capably. There are also several tutors who work with both the Romanian and Ukrainian students and appreciated the math aids we brought to Pro Vita.
Andrei Tanase’s Easter chicks have expanded into a flock of more than 200 hens who will go into full egg-laying mode as they mature. By Spring, there should be more than enough eggs for the Pro Vita community as well as some tasty chicken dinners.
Much gratitude to returning donors: Phyllis S., Jim and Joan K., Donna S., and to our champion monthly donor, Wendell B.
GIVING TUESDAY is November 29th! We hope you are making plans for your end-of-year giving and that AFPVO is at the top of your list. For any readers who must take Required Minimum Distribution (RMDs) from their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), it may be beneficial to look at an alternative method of making charitable donations. You can make a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) and deduct it from your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) while still taking the standard deduction. This is not financial advice, but just a reminder that QCDs are a potentially tax-efficient way to give to any bona fide charity.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! WE HAVE SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR.
Fr. Sean Cavanaugh, Chairman
Donna Shelton, President
Frank Doe, Treasurer and Secretary
Kerry Garikes, Communications and Design
Shelby Stowers, At Large