Saturday, May 28, 2011
On the morning of Saturday, May 28, 2011, members of the UNWLA National Board reprised a longstanding UNWLA convention tradition. Garbed in colorful embroidered blouses, dresses, or ensembles, they marched singly and in pairs into the hall where the day’s plenary sessions would be held. Leading the processional were flag bearers carrying the flags of the UNWLA’s Regional Councils (Detroit, Philadelphia, New York City, Northern New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Chicago, New England, and Central New York); the Acting Liaison for Branches-at-Large and Regional Council presidents or their designated alternates; and members of the UNWLA National Board and the Executive Committee. The last to enter the hall were Honorary President Iryna Kurowyckyj and President Marianna Zajac, who was greeted with bread and salt and bouquets of flowers and enthusiastically cheered and applauded.
Vice President Ulana Zinych led the gathering in reciting the UNWLA prayer and the UNWLA hymn. Giving tribute to their ancestral homeland and to their current homeland, UNWLA members then sang the national anthems of the United States of America and Ukraine. The traditional candle lighting ceremony at the Tree of Life followed, with candles lit by President Marianna Zajac, Honorary President Iryna Kurowyckyj, each Regional Council president (or her alternate), the acting Liaison for Branches at Large, WFUWO’s President Maria Szkambara, and Larysa Darmochval, representing Soyuz Ukrainok of the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine.
As New Jersey Regional Council’s president and Convention Committee Chair, Olha Lykiw welcomed guests and delegates to the XXIX UNWLA Convention and spoke briefly about the wreath that had been selected as the convention emblem, both as a reflection of Ukrainian culture and as a symbol of unity. She then turned the proceedings over to UNWLA President Marianna Zajac who, with three firm and resounding taps of a gavel, officially declared the convention open.
The president reminded those present that 2011 marks the 25th anniversary of the devastating events at Chonorbyl and asked that the victims be honored by a moment of silence. Two UNWLA members of Branch 125 recited moving poems dedicated to the tragedy.
After a verification of quorum by Credentials Committee Chair Ulana Kobzar, Vice President Ulana Zinych presented the convention agenda for approval and briefly addressed rules of procedure that were to apply during plenary sessions. President Marianna Zajac introduced honored guests who would be seated at the presidium during convention proceedings: UNWLA Honorary President Iryna Kurowyckyj, World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations (WFUWO) President Maria Szkambara, Soyuz Ukrainok Ukraine of Ivano-Frankivsk President Larysa Darmochval, UNWLA Parliamentarian Oksana Xenos, journalist and activist Myroslava Gongadze, and UCEF Director of Programs and Communications Marta Kolomayets.UNWLA delegates then participated in the election of convention officers, selecting Lidia Bilous as convention chairwoman; Daria Lissy and Maria Tomorug as vice chair and second vice chair, respectively; and Oksana Kusyszyn and Sophia Shields as secretaries. Ms. Bilous thanked those assembled for selecting her as convention chairwoman and pledged, on behalf of herself and her co-chairs to execute all associated responsibilities diligently and efficiently. Related procedural issues included appointment of a committee to approve minutes of the previous convention; a resolutions committee; and a bylaws committee.
The president then spoke briefly about new projects the UNWLA was exploring—aid for a pediatric burn unit in Lviv and an endowment fund to support a women’s studies program at the Ukrainian Catholic University. She then touched upon pivotal moments of her presidency, beginning with an anecdote about UCU’s rector Father Gudziak and his comments about growing up with a mother who was a dedicated UNWLA member and his childhood belief that the UNWLA was “the biggest, strongest, and most important organization in the whole world.” She closed her speech with a reference to an editorial in The Ukrainian Weekly, which had been published after the last convention, had cited the UNWLA’s multifaceted work over eight and a half decades, and had underscored that the organization’s goal was to make the world a better place. “This,” she stated, “continues to be our goal.”
Following the president’s address was a report from UNWLA Treasurer Nadia Cwiach who presented a profit/loss analysis of the organization, with an emphasis on Our Life magazine (which has been operating in the black since the restructuring of the editorial staff) and the UNWLA office in New York City (which, in August of 2010, had suffered significant economic problems following the fire and water damaged sustained by parts of the building in which the office is housed). The report of the Auditing Committee, presented by committee member Renata Zajac, including a summation of the committee’s collaborative work with the organization’s CPA. The reports were followed by comments and questions from membership, some related to financial issues, others related to membership issues, and several on generic topics.
At this juncture, Vice President Ulana Zinych announced the list of women that the National Board had proposed for Honorary Membership: Maria Szkambara (president of WFUWO), Roma Dyhdalo (long-time president and member of the Detroit Regional Council), Irena Hladka (long-time member and president of Branch 108 of the New England Regional Council), Christine Chomyn Izak (long-time president of the Philadelphia Regional Council), Maria Polanskyj (chairwoman of the UNWLA’s Scholarship Program), and Roma Shuhan (the UNWLA’s Financial Secretary). All nominees for Honorary Member were resoundingly approved by convention delegates.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Morning Plenary Session and Convention Closing