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Ukrainian National Association holds 38th Convention

by Matthew Dubas

KERHONKSON – N.Y. – Scores of delegates gathered for the Ukrainian National Association’s 38th Regular Convention held at the Soyuzivka Heritage Center on May 15-18. This year marks the 120th anniversary of the UNA’s founding in 1894 in Shamokin, Pa., and its publications, Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly, have served to inform the Ukrainian community for more than 120 years and 80 years, respectively.

The convention is the highest decision-making body of the UNA and meets on a quadrennial basis. The delegates discuss the previous four years’ work, break-out sessions of various committees make recommendations on what steps should be taken in the future by the UNA, and the delegates elect a slate of candidates for the General Assembly posts for the next four-year term.

Re-elected by acclamation, following overwhelming support in the primary round of elections, the six-member Executive Committee officers remain: President Stefan Kaczaraj, First Vice-President Michael Koziupa, Second Vice-President Eugene Oscislawski, Director for Canada Myron Groch, National Secretary Christine Kozak and Treasurer Roma Lisovich.

The three-member Auditing Committee – Slavko Tysiak, Eugene Serba and Dr. Wasyl Szeremeta – was also re-elected by acclamation following the primary election results.

The UNA Convention elected 11 advisors to the General Assembly: Nicholas Fil (New York), Ewhen Osidacz (Quebec), Andrij Szul (New York), Andrij Gavdanovich (New Jersey), Gloria Horbaty (Connecticut), Maya Lew (New York), Julian Pishko (Minnesota), Lubov Streletsky (Pennsylvania), Luba Poniatyszyn Keske (California), Bohdanna Puzyk (Connecticut) and Maria Luba Walchuk (New Jersey). New to the assembly are: Mr. Gavdanovich, Mr. Pishko, Ms. Puzyk and Ms. Walchuk.

The official opening ceremonies on Thursday morning, May 15, which are traditionally held at the Taras Shevchenko monument on Soyuzivka grounds, were held in the Veselka Hall due to rain. The ceremony included a color guard by members of the Ukrainian American Veterans and the singing of the American, Ukrainian and Canadian national anthems by Swiatoslava Kaczaraj.

In his opening remarks, President Kaczaraj noted that this was the third consecutive time that the UNA convention was held at Soyuzivka. Mr. Kaczaraj noted: “I see many familiar faces, smiling faces, as the UNA celebrates its longtime service to Ukrainians and Ukraine, especially in these troubling times facing Ukraine. In those 120 years the UNA has worked for the good of its members and the Ukrainian community at large. Our work continues as do opportunities for new perspectives.”

“The Maidan revolution in Ukraine and the new elections are such an opportunity where our strength should be used to support the rebirth of Ukraine, not only its political development, but in cultural, religious and social spheres. In the UNA’s next four years, keep this in mind in shaping our work,” he added.

An invocation was offered by the Rev. Dr. Ivan Kaszczak, pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Kerhonkson, N.Y. Following the singing of the Easter hymn “Christ is Risen,” the Rev. Kaszczak petitioned for God to “grant wisdom and courage in our discussions at this convention.”

Bohdan Doboszczak, representing the Credentials Committee, presented its report that 54 delegates had been officially registered for the 38th UNA Convention.

During the opening session the convention elected its co-chairmen, Raymond Komichak and Roman Hawryluk, to direct the proceedings in Ukrainian and English according to the UNA By-Laws and Roberts Rules of Order. Dr. Andrij Szul was appointed as parliamentarian. The secretaries recording the minutes of the convention in English and Ukrainian were Irene Jarosewich and Nina Bilchuk, in addition the convention was video recorded by Vlodko Artymyshyn.

The Elections Committee, Committee on Petitions, Secretaries Committee, Resolutions Committee, Press Committee and Sergeant of Arms were elected by the convention delegates. Elected prior to the convention were the Credentials Committee, Committee on Revision of By-Laws and Finance Committee.

The convention heard reports from the UNA executive officers, auditors and advisors, as well as the editor-in-chief of Svoboda and The Ukrainian Weekly, Roma Hadzewycz. Nestor Paslawsky, general manager of Soyuzivka, reported on its activities.

Following the reports, UNA National Secretary Kozak recognized the UNA’s top performers. Top UNA Sellers: George Fedorijczuk, Lubov Shumylov; Natalia Shuya, Alice Olenczuk, Joseph Chabon (posthumously), and Joyce Kotch (posthumously); UNA Branch Builders: Stephania Hawryluk, Nicholas Fil, Nick Diakiwsky; Most Insurance Sold: Lubov Streletsky, Eugene Oscislawski; Most Members Signed Up: Mr. Oscislawski and Ms. Streletsky; Most Annuities: Steven Woch and Oksana Stanko.

Following break-out sessions of the committees, which included delegates as well as members of the outgoing General Assembly, reports were heard from the Secretaries Committee, Finance Committee, Petitions Committee and Resolutions Committee.

Presentations were made by: Oksana Stanko on  “Customer Service,” by Yuriy Symczyk on “Life Insurance” and by Ms. Lisovich on “UNA Moving Forward.”

When the rains cleared on Saturday, members of the General Assembly laid a wreath of flowers at the monument to the Rev. Hryhory Hrushka, first editor of Svoboda and founder of the Ukrainian National Association.

During the four days of sessions, participants enjoyed a variety of events, including a Ukrainian-themed dinner, an evening sing-along with Stan Kosiw on accordion, a concert featuring members of the Toronto Bandurist Capella under the direction of Dr. Victor Mishalow with a meet-and-greet with the performers after the concert, and the convention banquet.

At the convention banquet, Mr. Kaczaraj delivered the keynote address after Ms. Kaczaraj, with accompaniment by Dr. Szul on piano, sang the anthem of the UNA. The banquet’s entertainment was provided by Mr. Kosiw on keyboard and accordion. Members of the new General Assembly were officially sworn in during the banquet.

On Sunday, many delegates had to depart for flights early or had long drives home, and the brief session heard reports from committees. The complete election results were presented by the Election Committee, resolutions were voted on, and recommendations were made by delegates of the convention. The convention closed with a statement by Mr. Kaczaraj and the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem.

The committee for the 38th UNA Convention – Stefanie Hawryluk, Roman Hawryluk, Gloria Horbaty, Bohdanna Puzyk, Sonia Semanyshyn, Nestor Paslawsky (Soyuzivka manager) and Oksana Trytjak (committee chair) – were instrumental in the convention’s success.

Soyuzivka has hosted the UNA convention three consecutive times, and its staff, including Mr. Paslawsky (general manager), assistant manager Stefko Drabyk and chef Andrij Sonevytsky, ensured that each guest had a memorable experience.