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Committees lay the groundwork
for 2013 and beyond
by Roma Hadzewycz
KERHONKSON, N.Y. – The Ukrainian National Association’s General Assembly convened at the Soyuzivka Heritage Center on Friday, November 30, through Sunday, December 2, for its regular annual meeting to review the fraternal benefit society’s activity for the past year and to adopt a plan of action for 2013 and beyond.
Six committees deliberated during the sessions: Organizing/Fraternal, Soyuzivka, Publications, Canada, Financial and Advocacy. The latter was a new creation, as the UNA seeks to articulate its concerns on the federal, state and local levels.
Reports were delivered by the three full-time executive officers of the UNA: President Stefan Kaczaraj, National Secretary Christine Kozak and Treasurer Roma Lisovich. All other General Assembly members – executive officers, advisors and auditors – as well as the editor-in-chief of the UNA’s official publications, Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly, had the opportunity to deliver addenda to their written reports. Soyuzivka Manager Nestor Paslawsky also delivered a report.
Present at the meeting in addition to the full-time executives were three other executive officers, First Vice-President Michael Koziupa, Second Vice-President Eugene Oscislawski and Director for Canada Myron Groch. Also attending were: Auditing Committee members Slavko Tysiak (chairman), Eugene Serba and Dr. Wasyl Szeremeta; and Advisors Maya Lew, Andrew Futey, Ewhen Osidacz, Nicholas Fil, Stephanie Hawryluk, Gloria Horbaty, Andrij Szul and Olya Czerkas. Unable to attend the meeting were Advisors Lubov Streletsky and Luba Poniatyszyn Keske.
Also participating was the editor-in-chief of the UNA’s publications, Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly, Roma Hadzewycz.
Reporting on the year ended December 31, 2011, and the first nine months of 2012, President Kaczaraj stated, “Even though we have been living through a turbulent economic storm – and turbulent weather, that is, Hurricane Sandy – the UNA continues to move slowly in the right direction.” He pointed to decreased expenses due to successful cost-cutting measures at the UNA, as well as an increase in the UNA’s assets. Nonetheless, financial difficulties continue as the Soyuzivka Heritage Center recovers from an oil spill and the UNA’s two newspapers, plagued by poor postal delivery, experience a decrease in subscribers.
Treasurer Lisovich presented an overview of the UNA’s financial performance in the first three quarters of 2012, pointing to net income trending upward and predicting that the UNA will meet its profit goals for 2012. She cited the challenge presented by the present economy and expressed concern about the strong regulatory requirements now being imposed on fraternal societies, as well as threats to their historic tax-exempt status.
National Secretary Kozak focused her report on the UNA’s life insurance business and commended the top producers, Advisors Oscislawski, Streletsky and Hawryluk. She also cited the increase in life insurance sold by the UNA’s field agents. Ms. Kozak reported that the UNA held continuing education courses for all its Home Office employees who are licensed insurance professionals, as well as courses for UNA branch secretaries and organizers. The UNA currently comprises 149 branches in North America, the vast majority of them (134) in the United States.
Editor-in-Chief Hadzewycz, who prepared an extensive written report about the UNA’s two weekly newspapers, underscored that 2013 will mark the 120th anniversary of Svoboda and the 80th anniversary of The Ukrainian Weekly, and she displayed a copy of the just-published history of Svoboda – “Vilne Slovo Amerykanskoyi Ukrainy” (The Free Press of Ukrainian Americans) – by one of its editors, Petro Chasto. She also reported that The Weekly had started a Facebook page in July, noted an increase in donations to the press funds of the two papers and cited donations totaling $26,250 from Ukrainian credit unions to the Svoboda Digital Library Project. Ms. Hadzewycz asked General Assembly members to help promote the UNA’s newspapers and extend their reach.
Soyuzivka’s manager, Mr. Paslawsky, reported on a very successful year of summer camps: over 600 children participated and several camps had waiting lists because they were filled to capacity. He highlighted the Soyuzivka Heritage Center’s strong ties with Ukraine’s Consulate General in New York and the Embassy of Ukraine, adding that the Embassy is a co-sponsor of the annual Ukrainian Cultural Festival.
The Organizing/Fraternal Committee focused its attention on branding and how to market the UNA to potential members, and suggested that the UNA needs to have a more interactive presence online, including on its Facebook page.
The Advocacy Committee, under the leadership of Mr. Futey, took a look at three main topics: the poor postal delivery of the UNA’s publications, efforts to safeguard the non-profit status of fraternals like the UNA, and promoting Soyuzivka’s involvement in regional economic development initiatives.
The Publications Committee discussed how to mark the anniversaries of Svoboda and The Weekly, ideas to increase the number of subscribers to both newspapers and fund-raising possibilities for an endowment fund for the two UNA publications.
The Soyuzivka Committee focused on how to create a positive image of the Soyuzivka Heritage Center and discussed the need to conduct targeted fund-raising for specific projects and to regularly report donations to the Soyuzivka Fund that is under the aegis of the UNA’s Ukrainian National Foundation. In addition, the committee suggested that a Soyuzivka Development Committee should be established to function as a standing committee.
The Canada Committee took another look at the status of the UNA in that country and alternatives for the future, which are to be further examined by the UNA’s executives.
The Finance Committee reviewed the proposed budget for the UNA, which was subsequently approved by the full General Assembly.
Also during the General Assembly meeting, Dr. Szeremeta showed a PowerPoint presentation about “redesigning” the UNA, including its insurance, publishing and cultural arms, via which he hoped to set the stage for the strategic planning session of the General Assembly that will be held in the spring of 2013. That session, it was agreed, should not be afraid to look at transformational change that will benefit the UNA, its subsidiaries and its members.
The date of the next annual meeting of the UNA General Assembly was set for November 22-24, 2013, at Soyuzivka.