KERHONKSON, N.Y. – Members of the Spartanky sorority of the Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization gathered at the Soyuzivka Heritage Center on November 5-7 for the organization’s annual conference.
After a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spartanky members were thrilled to be together in person to share stories, reminisce, review the past year’s work and plan for the coming year.
A small group of Spartanky arrived on November 5 to set up, decorate and prepare for the following day’s meeting. They were warmly greeted and attended to all weekend by the friendly Soyzivka staff. After a delicious dinner prepared by Chef Andriy Sonevytsky, the members had an informal social evening by the warm and cozy Main House fireplace.
On Saturday morning, after breakfast, a small group of outdoor enthusiasts began the day with a short hike to the cliffs behind Soyuzivka. A beautiful, sunny and crisp morning made an ideal setting for Kiki Zinycz to lead the group along a scenic and colorful 1.6-mile roundtrip path to stunning vistas of the town of Napanoch, N.Y., and the Catskill Mountains.
The formal part of the conference began shortly after the hike and was conducted in the main house library. Nineteen members representing New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Philadelphia and Chicago attended the conference in person, and over a dozen additional members participated via Zoom.
Spartanky President Theresa Kuritza formally welcomed all Spartanky and thanked them for their dedication, support and work throughout the year. The Rev. Dr. Ivan Kaczszak led the group in prayer, singing the Plast version of Our Father. He then blessed the members, wishing them a pleasant and fruitful conference. The members then held a candle light ceremony to welcome candidate Zina Zinycz into the Spartanky sorority as a full member.
The Spartanky elected new board members for key posts, which included Vira Myskiw, president; Chrystia Iwanik, vice president; Zezya Zawadiwsky, secretary; Adriana Pidwerbetsky, treasurer; Alexandra Odulak Petrenko, chronicler; Margareta Nycz, flagbearer; and Roma Temnycky, press correspondent.
Leaders of the local chapters were also announced: Kiki Zinycz, New York/New England; Chrystia Stasiuk (interim), New Jersey; and Marusia Kolodij, Philadelphia.
Although the annual Winter Outing (Zumova Prohulka) and Pochatkoviy Tabir in 2021 were canceled, the Spartanky have been busy working in small groups and locally within their Ukrainian communities.
The New York/New England chapter met multiple times during the year via Zoom to discuss their projects and to plan this year’s conference. Tamara Tershakovec created a “Keep-in-Touch” email to promote camaraderie and stay connected during the pandemic. Christine Kozak worked with the group to manage the “Vmilist in a Box” to create and update merit badges/levels and their requirements. Kiki Zinycz shared with the group a “fan letter” she received in early 2021 from William Burban who participated in Plast camp at Vovcha Tropa as a young scout. He stated that he had fond memories of his time at the East Chatham, N.Y., camp and appreciates the sorority’s time and work sprucing up the facilities.
Ms. Stasiuk discussed how the New Jersey branch is actively working with the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey in Whippany, N.J. – for example, by doing physical and ecological work around the outdoor café where many come to attend events and meetings.
Louisa Kaminskyj gave an overview of plans for a Horseback Riding Camp to occur during in 2023. Committee members plan to travel to Virginia next year to meet with instructors and plan logistics for this camp, which will take place in July-August. The Philadelphia chapter prepared Christmas baskets for the elderly in their community and Zina Zinych organized and ran a Red Cross Blood Drive at the Ukrainian Self-Reliance Federal Credit Union.
The conference ended late afternoon on November 6 with lots of new ideas, enthusiasm, excitement and plans for the upcoming year, as well as gratitude for the opportunity to gather in person. A small group of members stayed for another delicious dinner and more sisterly bonding by the fireplace where they reminisced about their Plast experiences and past conferences. On November 7 the group attended liturgy together at the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church.
The conference, planned and organized by the New York/New England chapter, was productive and ran smoothly despite obstacles and restrictions presented by the pandemic. The beautiful fall weather, the accommodations, as well as the hospitality and warmth of the attentive Soyuzivka staff, all contributed to a successful and enjoyable weekend. The Spartanky sorority is a group of energetic and dedicated women with wide ranging knowledge and strength in many different fields. With over 70 members, the organization is committed to continuing the work of Plast in the United States and abroad. The organization’s next conference, scheduled to take place in November 2022, will be planned and organized by the Philadelphia and Chicago chapters.