An Independence Day Celebration for America and Ukrainian Refugees
On June 29, 2023, KleinLife celebrated not just the anniversary of America, but the anniversary of their Ukrainian Refugee Summer Day Camp. It seemed appropriate to put this before their Active Adult Life Independence Day Party as it is a true testament to what America is all about; being welcoming to others especially when they need us the most.
The day started with a reflection on how the program began by KleinLife's president and CEO, Andre Krug. "I was born and raised in East Kharkiv in Ukraine in a neighborhood that suffered extensive destruction in the past 18 months...so this program holds a very personal significance to me. Starting in May and June of 2022, we began witnessing the Ukrainian refugees (arriving). As of now, we have 10,000 Ukrainian refugees that came and resettled in the city of Philadelphia. A majority of these people came from Eastern Europe where the war has ravaged and uprooted most of the population."
"People came to our building and started asking, 'What can you do for us?,'" recalls Krug, "And the first thing we knew we could do was start a summer camp...and it's going to be free!"
The Ukrainian Refugee Summer Day Camp has grown in size from 40 to 60 children and added more vital programs over the last year. The children and their parents were given even more of a warm welcome with its expansion to include a licensed therapist addressing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the big adjustment to a new life in America; a counselor to help with paperwork for things such as school, housing, and employment; an ESL teacher to help with learning the language; and an after-school program during the school year.
Later at the event, Pennsylvania State Representative Martina White recognized the significance of KleinLife's work with seniors and refugees with a state citation, acknowledging the significant contributions they have made in these areas.
"Today, we recognize KleinLife," White declared, "and thank you very much for your unyielding dedication to the people of Northeast Philadelphia; to the people from around the world. Your work creates connections...and truly makes our community a welcoming place for all."
The event concluded with a powerful vocal performance by the Ukrainian refugee children and local Holocaust survivors' Fargenign choir with Hatikvah (Israeli national anthem), the Ukrainian national anthem, and God Bless America.
The community near and far is welcome to be a part of this Ukrainian refugee program by donating to the Grow Hope campaign at kleinlife.org/growhope.
Click here to view a summary video of the event.
Click here to view the television news coverage of the event.
Click here to read about the event in the Northeast Times.