Finally, spring is in the air. Despite a very long and hard winter, spring cleaning and renovation projects have begun in earnest at Soyuzivka.
As outlined in previous communications, after years of planning and preparation, the goal of obtaining a charitable 501(c)(3) status for Soyuzivka Heritage Center was achieved at the beginning of 2015 with the transfer of the facility to the Ukrainian National Foundation Inc. (UNF).
Soyuzivka has a new team, bringing expansive expertise and a wide-ranging experience. The new UNF directors, Roman Hawryluk, Mark Olexy, Dr. Wasyl Szeremeta, Taras Sochan, Stefan Kaczaraj, Christine Kozak and this writer are meeting regularly. We are committed to ensuring Soyuzivka’s future.
Today, the central activities of the Soyuzivka Heritage Center are children’s and youth camps, cultural workshops, heritage awareness programs, courses on Ukrainian folk dancing, sports and a variety of educational activities whose purpose is to preserve and promote the Ukrainian cultural heritage here in the United States. Over 600 children participate in our camps annually and this number is growing each year. They come from all parts of America, Canada and abroad. Interest in one’s ancestry is a flourishing trend.
We need to expand Soyuzivka’s role as a hub of our community even further and believe Soyuzivka has a lot to offer – not only to our community, but also to the public at large. Family, tradition and culture are the values we hold dear, and Soyuzivka represents a means to preserve and promote them. The ultimate goal is to make the Soyuzivka Heritage Center a viable, full-season destination.
With the help and generosity of the community, we now have an opportunity to make the vision of an expanded modern Soyuzivka Heritage Center a reality. It will take a while to make the transformation, but we are excited about the changes already being implemented.
Visitors will immediately see changes as they drive up to the entrance on newly paved, pothole-free roads. A new privacy fence at the entrance will invite guests to enter and enjoy the facility.
As visitors (and their automobiles) know, the replacement of the roads is long overdue. The project involved a capital investment of over $100,000 for Phase I alone, so we hope the guests will notice and appreciate the improvement. (Phase I will be completed by Memorial Day.)
The staff is also working hard at sprucing up the grounds with new plantings and landscaping. Buildings are being painted, repaired and fixed up. All the carpets at Soyuzivka will be professionally cleaned before the season’s opening. The Main House second-floor patio was replaced. Not only will this provide visual appeal, but it will, we hope, solve the leak issue that has plagued this grand old lady for years. After all, the Main House was built in 1906!
Kyiv’s exterior is being painted and its lobby redone. Many such projects are under way. Some will be visible to guests, such as new outdoor carpeting around the pool, new room furniture and the Veselka deck renovation.
The directors certainly recognize the need to update the accommodations. It is the intent to update all the rooms and common areas, but this will take time. Certainly not all can be accomplished before the 2015 season’s start.
The rooms in the Karpaty building have been repainted, new bathrooms installed and, if delivered on time, new furniture will complete the renovation. The Halych building is next. Guests staying in the Kyiv building will see a renovated common area with new carpeting and lobby furnishings. The exterior is being painted.
Other projects on the table are not visible and are structural in nature. These include the replacement of the oil tanks, water tanks, etc. These capital improvements carry hefty price tags, but are necessary for the continued operation of the facility. You may not be aware, but even the water reservoir tank needs a redo. But this alone can cost up to a quarter of a million dollars.
Short- and long-term plans are being developed. Much will depend on the review and recommendation reports of experts.
The installation of a modern hospitality reservation/accounting system is slated to be completed before the summer begins. This is a high-ticket item, but with it will come greater efficiency and controls. Guests will be able to book charges to their rooms or make credit card purchases easily throughout Soyuzivka. The ability to offer online booking of reservations should help increase occupancy.
New construction is being considered, and we encourage guests to visit Soyuzivka to view the actual full-size cabin model that is being proposed. We are trying to gauge your interest in this type of room choice. Your feedback is important.
We look forward to active participation and support from the community. Fund-raising will be essential, and we know the community will be part of our support team. Please be generous when approached for new fund-raising campaigns. This is your heritage center.
We are committed to ensuring Soyuzivka’s future. We know you are, too. Working together, we will achieve our goals.
See you this summer!
Roma Lisovich is treasurer of the Ukrainian National Foundation.