More than 200 people attended a gala benefit at the Polish American Cultural Center on May 1 that raised over $50,000 for aid to Ukraine.
Ulana Mazurkevich, president of the Ukrainian Human Rights Committee, opened the event with the words of the Ukrainian poet Vasyl Symonenko. “Ukraine is; Ukraine will be. No one will eliminate my Ukraine,” Ms. Mazurkevich said.
The event was organized by members of the Ukrainian Human Rights Committee, among them Yara Snylyk, Christina Snylyk, Katria Kowal, Lesia Chmelko, Tonia Katruk and Chrystia Senyk. Tickets for the event cost $250, and proceeds went to support the war effort in Ukraine.
Ms. Mazurkevich introduced Michael Blichasz, president of the Polish American Cultural Center in Philadelphia, a longtime friend of the Ukrainian Human Rights Committee and supporter of many demonstrations on behalf of Ukraine.
Ms. Mazurkevich noted how appropriate it was to have the event at the Polish American Cultural Center in light of the extraordinary support given to Ukraine by the Polish people.
Noted restauranteur Stephen Starr was called to the dais to be thanked for his amazing and bountiful generosity in gifting food and signature cocktails from his iconic restaurants, including Parc, Buddakhan and Barclay Prime, for the entirely of the four-hour event. The benefit for Ukraine did not go unnoticed by the local press, as it was covered by every television station in Philadelphia.
During the event, Ms. Mazurkevich introduced Metropolitan Archbishop Borys Gudziak, the archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians and the metropolitan for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the U.S.A. “We have to help Ukraine win the war. There are millions of people counting on our fellowship. This is David and Goliath. It really is a miracle that Ukrainians have resisted and have won so much,” Archbishop Gudziak said. Following the archbishop’s address, Philadelphia City Councilman Mark Squilla announced that the city is ready and willing to help refugees from Ukraine.
A keynote address was delivered by Trudy Rubin, a bi-weekly, award-winning columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In her fiery address, Ms. Rubin spoke of the need for Ukraine to win what she said is an existential battle for the values of the free world. Recalling her experience during a previous visit to Ukraine in 2014 when war broke out in the Donbas, Ms. Rubin said her travels to the frontline showed her the resilience and bravery of the Ukrainian people, which she rediscovered when she walked the streets of Marioupol, Ukraine, just two weeks before Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale, barbaric war on Ukraine on February 24.
Following Ms. Rubin’s speech, guests were treated to a musical performance that was introduced by Christina Snylyk. Soprano Marta Zaliznyak, formerly with the Lviv Opera, was accompanied by a string quartet led by Philip Kates of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Among the four pieces played was “Ridna Matu” sung by Ms. Zaliznyak with music by Mayboroda and words by Dmytro Pavlychko. The performance brought tears to the eyes of many people in the audience.
“Dearest mother of mine, tell me why you weren’t sleeping, why you woke me to gaze at the stars up above. Did you know I was leaving? Tell me why. Was that why you were grieving? Was the cloth that you gave me goodbye and a sign of your love?”
Natalya Turchyn, who comes from a prominent theatrical family in Ukraine, recited a short poem by Vasyl Symonenko to close the event. Guests at the event, many of whom were not Ukrainian, voiced their commitment for strong and continued support of Ukraine. Conversations among guests continued late into the evening. Money collected during the event will go to the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee (UUARC) and Help Heroes of Ukraine.
Help Heroes of Ukraine, Inc. NFP’s mission initially is to provide intervention for the people of Ukraine during and after the war with Russia. We will provide tangible assistance to struggling families, elderly, refugees, handicapped people and people in danger in all regions of Ukraine, as well as those in all countries taking in and assisting refugees.
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