Did you know that YMCA Calgary has had a partnership with YMCA Ukraine since 2006?
With so much focus on YMCA Calgary’s branches and work in the community, it’s easy to think that our commitment stops at our city limits. In fact, we’re part of a much larger organization, present in 126 countries around the world.
As part of our role as members of a global organization, YMCA Calgary has an active partnership with YMCA Ukraine. The partnership exists to strengthen both YMCA movements and to be participants in the Global YMCA Community.
YMCA Calgary President & CEO Helene Weir, and VP Children & Youth Tanis Cochrane recently spent over a week in Kiev, Ukraine this past June to sign a new three year partnership agreement with YMCA Ukraine.
YMCAs in Ukraine are much different than YMCAs in Calgary. There are four paid staff at the national office level, and all local YMCAs are led by a volunteer president and comprised of volunteers, most between 18 & 30 years of age.
The volunteers deliver programs to children and youth in the areas of camping, scouting, special events, floorball (similar to floor hockey), and creative arts and drama. There are 23 local associations, with three suspending operations due to the conflict in the eastern part of the country.
“We were in Kyiv which felt very safe but rather surreal with an underlying uneasiness as Ukrainians wonder what will happen next in their country…” said Helene.
Currently, there are about a million Internally Displaced People who have fled from eastern Ukraine to western Ukraine for safety, leaving behind homes, jobs and life as they know it. YMCA Ukraine works to meet community needs by providing programs and services to these displaced children and youth, thereby affording parents opportunities to look for work and to find permanent housing.
Helene and Tanis also had the opportunity to visit with the Canadian Ambassador, Roman Waschuk and his chief program staff. He was very impressed in learning about the volunteer leadership of the YMCA and how it could contribute to the development of Ukrainian civil society.
Helene and Tanis left feeling extremely proud and moved by our YMCA Ukraine colleagues.
“Coming back to Calgary I can only reflect on how proud I am of our YMCA partnership with Ukraine and on how fortunate we are to live in Canada”, said Tanis.
The staff from the national YMCA Ukraine office asked us to share the following message:
Thank you to all the members who made donations to support our people being affected by the conflict. Your donations supported everything from clothing, to toys, to school supplies for children and youth who had been displaced from their homes. We really appreciated your kindness, your support, and your thinking about us.
YMCA Calgary couldn’t be happier to partner with YMCA Ukraine. Their commitment and dedication to their community and their country is truly inspirational, and highlights what makes the YMCA so great, the people!
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