Principle #3 – Use your passion by giving to others.

Dana and I arrived home last week from our Europe trip with my sister, Deb, and her husband, Tom. We had a ten-day tour of Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. We had 12 fabulous people in our tour group from Montana, New York, Pennsylvania, and Nashville. Our tour leader was fantastic. And guess where she was from…Kraków…seriously! Our world is so small; we are all tied together! We saw churches from the 9th-11th centuries and castles and palaces from the 8th-17th centuries. And there were tulips everywhere! In Budapest, we listened to an organ concert at St. Stephen’s Basilica, went to a Thermal Spa, and took a relaxing boat ride on the Danube River. We attended a Strauss and Mozart concert, visited the Museum Hunderstwasser-an Austrian artist, and learned to make a strudel in Vienna. We visited the Jewish Quarter in Prague and had a lunch cruise on the Vltava River. There is so much history, and each city had its own unique atmosphere. The tour guides were knowledgeable, and even though their histories were dark, like the Holocaust, they owned it and spoke about what they learned from the past, unlike some areas in the United States. “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” – Edmund Burke

“If we do not honor our past, we lose our future. If we destroy our roots, we cannot grow.”
– Friedensreich Hunderstwasser: Colorful Artist in Vienna

We spent our last week in Kraków. What a way to complete our trip! In the expanded space is a vast room set up for a theatre…it’s the concert hall. It will be an excellent multi-purpose room for Pilates, plays, clothing drives, and celebrations. We, Deb, Tom, Barbara, and Kevin Gunning (winery fundraiser), and I prepped the concert hall for painting. An incredible volunteer non-profit disaster relief group, All Hands and Hearts, is painting it. Wow…what a job! Thank you for your hands and for your hearts!!!

L to R: Tom, Deb, Mait (teen volunteer), and Barbara patched walls.

Kevin cleared walls and Cindy taped outlets and light switches.

All Hands and Hearts Non-profit Organization

I spent a day with Olga and Łucja discussing the operations of KDU, and Lena joined us the next day. I can’t say it enough – these women are amazing! With their hearts and skills, they built KDU from nothing. They turned it into quite a non-profit without changing the welcoming and loving atmosphere of the Świetlica Dębniki Community Center. While we were there, many moms and grandmoms came to the clothes pantry, and on Tuesday alone, 39 children went to the daycare. Women would stop and thank us for our help, even though there was a language barrier. They can’t believe we would travel all the way from the U.S. to help them. They are so happy that we care about them. Their appreciation and their stories touch the heart!

We saved a few hours during the week to tour Kraków and visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The salt mine was excavated in the 13th century and was one of the oldest working salt mines until 2007. Our tour guide left us, so we tagged along on another tour. This was a German tour, but we were lucky the guide knew English too. There were a lot of tunnels underground, and we could have easily gotten lost. We were so thankful for her! We had a great adventure and made a lot of memories!

L to R: Cindy, Lena, Deb, Yarik (Lena’s son), and Dana.

On our last day at the community center, Deb, Tom, and Dana built shelving units for the new library. Kevin built shelves in the kitchen/bar area. I had a team-building session with the community center staff. We discussed the future after the war. These resilient Ukrainian women have been empowered by relocating to a new country. Their self-confidence has soared by working at the community center. We talked about how they could take their newfound skills back to Ukraine. I’m super proud of them!

L to R: Tom, Kevin, Dana, and Deb are building shelves.

After the shelves were built and our team building meeting ended, the women made us lunch. We ate, laughed, danced, and enjoyed being together. We talked about how we all inspire and appreciate each other. It was a fun lunch and the perfect ending to our week in Poland. I miss them all already and can’t wait to go back.

L to R: Tatiana, Marta, Juliya, Lena, Katerina, Angelica, Kasia.

Thank you, Deb, Tom, Kevin, and Barbara, for your help in preparing the concert hall for painting. And thank you, Vincent and your volunteers from the All Hands and Hearts organization, for painting…it’s a big hall!!! Having the help of volunteers and, of course, the staff of Ukrainian women keeps the community center running. It takes all of us!

If you want to volunteer in Poland, please respond to this email. You will be changed forever. Or, if you would like to donate, click on the PayPal link below. Thank you for your love and support. Be positive and stay safe.

Much love,

All contributions are fully tax-deductible through HCC, our registered 501(c)(3) passthrough charity.

Make your check payable to **Hispanic Community Council** – (VERY IMPORTANT: not to Ukraine Relief Initiative) and send it to the following address:

c/o John Kersey
208 Liberty Street
Warren, PA 16365

Please indicate “Ukrainian Relief Initiative” in the check memo and include a note with your contact info (address, phone, email).

Use this link: PayPal goes through the “Hispanic Community Council,” our 501(c)3 passthrough organization.

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