New York, NY (UCCA) -- On Sunday, March 1, 2009, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America's (UCCA) Long Island Branch held its annual election meeting, at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church's Parish Center.  Following a brunch for the members and general community, the UCCA Branch  held its annual election.  The meeting was chaired by Andrij V.R. Szul, Esq., former President of the Long Island Branch and longtime member of National Council of the UCCA.  Reports were given by the out-going Board including its President, Bohdan Kurczak, Treasurer Maria Kopastianska, Secretary Slava Kunitska, External Affairs Chair Andrij Szul, and “Ukrainian Night” Concert MC Bob Petrowsky.

The UCCA Long Island Branch had a busy and succesful 2008 year. Reports from the various Board members highlighted the  various events that were held throughout the year, which included: the annual "Ukrainian Night" Concert in the outdoor amphitheatre of Eisenhower Park, where the branch annually presents various Ukrainian performances share Ukrainian culture with the general public; visits to various Long Island municipalities in Nassau and Suffolk Counties (Towns of Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Lindenhurst and Riverhead, and tha Nassau County Government Center in Mineola) to raise the Ukrainian Flag on August 24th, marking Ukraine's 17th Independence Day celebration; having Proclamations on this occasion issued by various county and town government officials marking August 24th as Ukrainian Independence Day; and solemnly marking the 75th anniversary of Ukraine's Holodomor-Genocide of 1932-1933 with a solemn ecumenical Panakhyda and, as well, with an essay contest on the Holodomor theme by children at the parish’s Ukrainian Studies School.

 The majority of funds for the Branch are raised by a dedicated group of individuals who volunteer their time to make perohy and then sell them to the local community, with proceeds going to the Long Island UCCA Branch’s various community and cultural projects, which include providing assistance to orphans and disabled children in Ukraine.

 Following the reports of the Board members, the newly-elected UCCA President, Tamara Gallo Olexy, addressed the gathering in what was her first field visit to a UCCA Branch. After highlighting UCCA's accomplishments in 2008, including various events that commemorated the 75th anniversary of Ukraine's Genocide of 1932-1933; release of the UCCA's third feature film "Vladyka Andrey", and others, Ms. Olexy outlined her vision and challenges for the near future of the organization.  The first priority for the newly elected UCCA National Board, which was elected in October of last year for a four-year term, will be the revitalization of our organization nationwide, including revitalizing our branches and developing a major drive for new membership.  Ms. Olexy stated that the Long Island Branch can serve as an example, as it has a long and successful history.  The second task of the UCCA for 2009 is to continue to advocate issues important for Ukrainian Americans with the U.S. Government. In light of the  new adminstration, UCCA, and our community, should foster a stronger working relationship with the new presidential team and Congress -- to make sure our issues are understood and addressed.  She mentioned that in mid-March the UCCA will host "Ukrainian Days" in Washington, D.C.  This annual event seeks to promote some target concerns of the Ukrainian American community through meetings with legislators and other officials.  One of the goals is to establish effective working relations with our elected representatives in Congress.   The UCCA will be addressing such issues as increased U.S. foreign assistance to Ukraine, energy security for Ukraine, NATO enlargement, continued advocacy of the Ukrainian Holodomor-Genocide of 1932-1933, and the overall context of U.S.-Ukrainian relations.  She emphasized that the UCCA National Office is reaching out to all Branches through initiatives which encourage their more active participation in this broad educational-advocacy program.  One of the UCCA's major goals for 2009 will be to assist the branches in their efforts to implement the teaching about Ukraine’s Holodomor in public and private school curriculums.

 In closing, she called on everyone to join forces in every innovative way they can to improve the service of the UCCA to our community.  Ms. Olexy also stated, "The UCCA is only as strong as its branches - and I thank you for the hard work you have done over the years!  I  look forward to working with everyone as an effective team, and to open new avenues of communication and cooperation.  While the challenges sometimes may seem daunting, she said, we believes that our community has a bright future."

 Following her presenation, the UCCA Long Island Branch elected a new Board including:   Bohdan Kurczak, President; Petro Piddubny, Esq. and Taras Pyszczymuka, Vice Presidents; Slava Kunitska (Ukrainian language) and Valentyna Falkowska (English language) Secretaries; Maria Kopyscianska,Treasurer, and Andriji V.R. Szul, Esq., External Affairs Chair.

 The meeting, which was opened and closed with special prayers composed by Fr. Vasyl Hrynkiw, Pastor of St. Vladimir’s, concluded with the singing of Ukraine's national anthem, "Sche ne vmerla Ukrayina."

 The UCCA, Inc. was founded 69 years ago, and the Long Island Branch fifteen years later.  The Long Island Branch is the cultural and educational federation of organizations representing Ukrainian community associations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties of New York State.

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