UCCA – ILLINOIS DIVISION: 35th Anniversary Celebration

UCCA – Illinois Division: 35th Anniversary Celebration

The Illinois Division of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America prepares to celebrate 35 Decent in 1949.  The League of Americans of Ukrainian Decent was a civic, religious and welfare organization which aided Ukrainians in need and offered English language courses.  In 1974, under the leadership of Dr. Julian Kulas, members of the League of Americans of Ukrainian Decent formally organized as the Illinois Division of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA-IL).

On Saturday, May 2nd, 2009 UCCA-IL will host a 35th Anniversary Banquet and Dance at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Chicago to celebrate the Illinois Division’s 35 years of community and political activism in Illinois.

Over the past 35 years UCCA-IL has become of the most active state Divisions of UCCA due to the dedicated leadership and vision of former presidents Dr. Julian Kulas, Mychaijlo Panasiuk, Dr. Myroslav Charkewycz, Orest Baranyk and current President Pavlo Bandriwsky.

The current UCCA-IL leadership team of: Pavlo Bandriwsky, President; Bohdan Melnyk, 1st Vice President; Dr. Alex Strilchuk, 2nd Vice President; Ivanna Gorchynsky, Secretary; and Stephan Strilchuk, Treasurer, along with the rest of the UCCA-IL Board Members, are committed to UCCA’s mission of supporting cultural, educational and humanitarian activities that emphasize the Ukrainian American heritage and providing support for Ukraine’s newly developing democracy.

Throughout the year UCCA-IL supports this mission by producing cultural and educational programs to mark historic Ukrainian events.  These programs include: an annual November Uprising of 1918 concert; a January 22, 1918-1919 Acts of Independence and Unification luncheon and community service awards presentation; Battle of Kruty presentations for Ukrainian American youth groups and Saturday schools, a Sviato Shevchenko concert to celebrate the life’s work of Taras Shevchenko, and the annual Ukrainian Flag Raising program at the City of Chicago’s Daley Plaza in commemoration of Ukrainian Independence Day.

One of the most anticipated UCCA-IL programs of the year is the two-day UCCA-IL Ukrainian Days Festival held at Smith Park near Chicago’s Ukrainian Village.  It is one of the largest Ukrainian festivals in the United States and draws over 13,000 visitors. Each year the Ukrainian Days Festival features impressive live entertainment by local and international musical, dance and comedic performers, dozens of crafts and merchandise vendors, sports competitions and ethnic food vendors. This year UCCA-IL will present the 26th annual Ukrainian Days Festival in Smith Park on August 22nd and 23rd.

Programs such as the Ukrainian Days Festival allow UCCA-IL to raise much needed funds for humanitarian projects in Ukraine.  Each year UCCA-IL contributes financially to at least one major humanitarian needs program in Ukraine. This past year the Illinois Division used its resources to financially assist the regions of Ukraine which were overtaken by the July 2008 floods and to help ship containers of clothing and supplies to Ukraine.

In addition to contributing to humanitarian projects, UCCA-IL is the largest monetary supporter of the Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS) office in Washington, DC.  UCCA-IL values the advocacy work UNIS does in making the voice of Ukrainian-Americans heard in Washington, DC and the efforts to strengthen US-Ukraine political relations.

Beyond promoting communication at a national political level, UCCA-IL is also dedicated to promoting and facilitating communication and activism among the dozens of Ukrainian American community organizations, schools and churches in Illinois. Furthermore, UCCA-IL sponsors 5 levels of English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for Ukrainian immigrants.

In 2004, UCCA-IL became the first state Division of UCCA to launch its own website. The website, www.uccaillinois.org, helps facilitate communication of Urgent Action Items and assists Illinois Ukrainian American community organizations in coordinating and publicizing their events via the online Illinois Ukrainian Community Events Calendar featured on the website.  In addition, the website hosts an online archival album of UCCA-IL past events and announcements.

To learn more about the Illinois Branch of UCCA please visit our website: www.uccaillinois.org or e-mail uccaillinois@uccaillinois.orgyahoo.com. The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America is an umbrella organization comprised of various Ukrainian community organizations united together as the Voice of the Ukrainian American Community.

Chicago, IL Katya Mischenko-Mycyk