OUR GOALS IN AUGUST 2023:
Who We Are:
Operating under the fiduciary of the 501-C3 non-profit entity: Southeast Michigan Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Organization (semiRPCV), this program is run by Diane Cancro, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to enter the former Soviet Union: Peace Corps Ukraine - Group One, arriving in Kyiv in November 1992 with the mission to teach business skills of a free-market economy.
As a volunteer, Diane consulted for a joint venture Sail-loft in Odessa, and taught Economics at a Joint Venture College in Kyiv.
In January 2022, volunteers from this group were planning a 30-year reunion. The Smithsonian was requesting their video stories for the National Archives. Providentially, this connected Diane with one woman from her group who continued to make Ukraine her home. This collegue had reached out with an invite to the party, and request for photos for the slide show!
When the free and independent, peaceful nation of Ukraine was invaded by their neighbor to the north; conversations shifted from "throwing a party" to "helping a nation that needs to remain free for the safely and freedom of all sovereign countries".
In 1992 and 1993, these women experienced a country emerging from the bonds of Soviet Union. Like most important transitions, it wasn't easy. Stability and predictability were exchanged for FREEDOMS of language, culture, travel, information, religious expression, land ownership, entrepreneurship, commerce with the rest of the world, and even life, amongst others. Currency had gone into hyper-inflation (240 coupons to the dollar became 40,000 coupons to the dollar in a year.) Democracy was given a chance.
Diane knew one person in Ukraine:
her colleague from the Peace Corps.
On the news one night, she saw the interview of one anonymous man in military gear walking into Ukraine. When asked why, he said only, "If not me, who?".
That was the beginning.
"If not me, who?"
Beginning in March, Diane coordinated with her one contact in Ukraine to help a tiny group of engineers and grandparents who volunteered to make badly-needed tourniquets; by sourcing raw materials in the US, from Halco, in CA. ...and raising funds to keep up with production. 3,000-4,000 tourniquets were made in Ukraine, from these raw materials.
The first $2,000 was raised by Diane's mother, from her 90-year-old friend group.
Diane joined forces with another Peace Corps collegue, Perry, who runs DenverHelpsKyiv, an incredible group that addresses individual small needs projects, and has raised $300,000+ to do so.
Shifting with needs in key to success. In May, when the government was up to speed making tourniquets, we shifted.
A "Bread Plus One" program was created. In May, Diane engaged one 21-year old refugee woman, a young mother and wife, in the Cherkasy region of Ukraine, to be the on-the-ground person. This amazing young woman shopped prices and availability of a shelf-stable item like cooking oil or buckwheat, placed orders for food and loaves of fresh bread, advertised the food distribution to elderly, disabled, and refugees; and picked-up and distributed this critical aid; for this program, while Diane raised the funds and the planned the distributions. It was a small way to take the edge off for these critical villages.
Lawrence High School students kicked off this program by funding the first distribution.
60,000 servings of food had been distributed by the time the program ended in February 2022.
In June, 2022, the news reported the targeting of museums as a means to cultural genocide. It was important to support artists in Ukraine.
On August 18, 2023, a collection of art from 32 artists will go on exhibition at the Ukrainian American Archives and Museum in Hamtramck,
Patrons will be given the opportunity to donate towards the providing of medical supplies to Ukraine. Some art pieces will be available for purchase, but most of the collection is meant to stay together and travel to other museums. Custom orders from Ukrainian artists may be facilitated.
This is a constantly evolving process as needs become more critical in different areas and opportunities arise. The main focus is to keep people and hope alive as much as it is within our power to do so. 100% of everything donated has arrived at its intended destination: to Ukrainians in need in Ukraine. It's a simple program. With more resources, there's no limit to what we can do.
"If not me, who?" If not now, when?
Diane has a BBA in Accounting plus a Major and Humanistic Studies from Saint Mary's of Notre Dame, a Master's Degree in Education and Teaching from Wayne State University, has worked as a real estate agent in Birmingham, Michigan for 23 years; and recently completed a one-year course in Myomassology from Irenes School, towards as a shift into working in the healing arts.
Special thanks to our partners, particularly Jeff Jenks, President of semiRPCV; Dr. Samson and World Medical Relief, DenverHelpsKyiv, Ukrainian American Archives and Museum, the Kiwanas, and volunteers across the globe who continue to help us help make dreams happen!!
Using donations from our supporters, we send funds to a coordinator in Ukraine who purchases a large quantity of bread plus one shelf-stable item and distributes it to elderly and displaced persons in eight villages.
Using donations from our supporters, we purchase medical supplies, clothing, and other items requested by our Ukrainian team, and ship to our coordinator in Ukraine who then gets the supplies to the intended destination.
We import art from Ukrainian artists to keep and to sell. All funds go to support both the artists and the defenders.
servings of food distributed
Artists Featured in Exhibition
Original Paintings to be on Display
New Hospital Beds ready to ship