Some of Our Recipients
A few examples of the good work we do
St. Michael’s Camp Fire Pit Grant
The fire pit and the seating area at St. Michael's Camp had become weathered and unsafe for children to use. We needed to rebuild the bleacher style seating and re-landscape the common area and insert a steel ring for the fire in the middle of the area. We also needed to make this wheelchair accessible by having wider openings into the center so that everyone can enjoy the night ambiance.
St. Michael’s camp would like to thank you for your generous grant in helping fund our new fire-pit for our kids to enjoy at camp. Our old fire-pit was in a state of disrepair and had to be replaced, as the wooden bleachers were rotten and unsafe for the children to use. With the money we received this year, we were able to rebuild the main patio area and the fire pit burning area. Next year we hope to raise money to purchase some aluminum bleachers for the kids to sit on and complete the project.
Chairperson of St. Michael’s Camp
Presentation May 25, 2017
Presentation to Light of Christ Catholic School Division at their celebration of World Catholic Education Day on May 25th, 2017
K of C Charitable Foundation Presentation to Battlefords Catholic Family Services
YMCA of Moose Jaw Receives Donation during 7th Annual Breakfast with Santa
Tuesday January 3rd, 2017 – On behalf of the YMCA of Moose Jaw Board of Directors and staff, we would like to send a special thank you to The Knights of Columbus, Father Lawless Council #1534 for their presentation of a cheque in the amount of $1,500 and the Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation for their presentation of a cheque in the amount of $4,000, which includes a $500 endowment from Robert Tiede! They presented their cheques to the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign during our 7th Annual Breakfast with Santa held on Saturday, December 3, 2016. Thanks to the generous donations combined with ticket sales the event raised over $6,250.
7 years ago Al Rossler, with the Knights of Columbus, contacted us to begin a “Breakfast with Santa” event and to have the proceeds go towards our Strong Kids Campaign. This event has built a great relationship not only between our organizations, but also with community and all those who attend. Al and his fellow Knights donate their time to cook the breakfast, donate the space to hold the event, as well as set up, clean up and help promote the breakfast.
We would also like to thank our local Superstore for generously donating all groceries required for breakfast! Tickets for the event were printed by Minute Man Press at cost allowing us to keep our cost for the event down. Their support is truly appreciated!
The event served children and families a pancake breakfast with sausages, pancakes and fruit. The kids were entertained with crafts as well as the most important guest – SANTA – who brought goodie bags to them all. Nearly 250 people were served over the course of the morning. Supporter’s and members of the community are an integral part of the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. The goal of our campaign is to sponsor as many children, youth and families as are needed in the community of Moose Jaw, building self-esteem, self-confidence and developing healthy lifestyles in a safe, fun and positive environment. At the YMCA, no one is denied access to any YMCA program or service solely on the inability to pay the full fee. Our focus on inclusiveness and accessibility means we serve people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities through all stages of life. The Strong Kids Campaign provides funding for financially disadvantaged children, youth and families to participate in YMCA camps, programs and services.
Requests for financial assistance increase every year— and with your help we are able to ensure no one is turned away and support those in need. Through the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, the YMCA is accessible to all! This year our goal is to raise $130,000 – if you would like to donate or volunteer at one of our events please contact Angie at 306-692-0688 ext. 229.
Seminarian Warren Dungen
Warren Dungen is a married seminarian with four children attending Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Ottawa Ontario. With a family, the costs are significantly higher than for a single person, therefore, the Council agreed to assist this family with funding during this study program.
After this final year in the Seminary, Warren will be returning to the Eparchy in Saskatchewan.
This project closed on October 31. 2016.
Dungen family from far left, John, Lori-Lou, Peter, Andrew, James. Seated is Seminarian Warren Dungen.
Warren was ordained a DEACON on Sunday, Jan 8th, by Bishop Bryan Bayda in Ottawa, at Saint John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Shrine during the 11:30 am Liturgy. Click here to see writeup in the Prairie Messenger.
Saskatchewan Separate School Board
Adrienne and Mervyn Welter presenting a cheque for $10,000 to the Saskatchewan Separate School Board Association President, Paula Scott, in support of the Theodore Litigation. This donation was jointly funded by the Adrienne and Mervyn Welter Education Endowment Fund, the Fr. O’Leary Fund and the Capital Fund.
The Sask K of C Charitable Foundation partnered with Humboldt Council #1886 to assist the Blom family in Annaheim, Sask. Their young son Quade required major heart surgery which resulted in serious travel and living expenses for the family. Humboldt Council recognized the major financial stress experienced by the family and decided to provide assistance.
Quade has recovered from his surgery very well and is attending kindergarten this year. He loves attending school and playing with his friends.
The Blom family is extremely pleased with the help they have received from the Humboldt Council and the Charitable Foundation. They continue to experience financial expenses for the numerous trips into Saskatoon for medical check-ups for Quade and this financial assistance is certainly appreciated.
From the left is Allen Blom; Quade Blom; Foundation Director Brad Lefebvre; Desre Blom holding their granddaughter Ayla Hustej.
Mother Teresa Middle School
Mother Teresa Middle School is located in Regina, Saskatchewan. It is privately funded in partnership with the Catholic School Board and is designed to provide an enhanced, holistic middle school education to Regina’s vulnerable inner city youth.
Sask K of C Charitable Foundation is proud to have provided financial support to Mother Teresa Middle School over the past number of years.
The above photo shows Charitable Foundation Secretary Martin Wrubleski and President Harvey Granatier presenting a check to two of the students representing Mother Teresa Middle School.
Below is a photo of the entire student body from Mother Teresa together with members of the Knights of Columbus from throughout Regina following a mass celebration at the Campion College chapel.
Mother Teresa Middle School website is www.mtmschoolregina.com
Echo, the Diabetic Assistance Dog
Harvey Granatier, president of the Sask K of C Charitable Foundation, presents a cheque to Gail Maki. Sask K of C Foundation partnered with Tisdale Council #5219 to help pay for the cost of her dog. Looking on are (left) Ronald Saretzky, Foundation Board member from Nipawin, and (right) Gilles Doiron, State Deputy.
In the foreground is Echo, Gail’s Diabetic Assistance Dog. Echo can tell when Gail’s blood sugar levels change to a dangerous level and alert Gail up to 25 minutes before a glucose meter can detect the change.
Typhoon Yolanda Relief Operations
Below are links to a letter from the office of the Bishop of Tagbilaran expressing gratitude for the funds raised for the diocese in support of Typhoon Yolanda relief, and a document containing images from the relief operations.
The donation by the Saskatchewan KC Charitable Foundation will make it possible for me, John Sidloski on behalf of Weyburn Pro-Life, to rebuild the large pro-life billboard at Kenaston along Highway 11. I also commit to keep the sign in good repair for the next six years. The donation will also help pay for the land rental cost. The billboard will show a strong pro-life message along a well travelled road and provide recognition to the Knights of Columbus and the Charitable Foundation in particular.
Santa Maria Senior Citizens Home
Caring and giving ...
The Santa Maria Home is a health care facility located in Regina providing 24 hour professional nursing and supportive care for Level III & Level IV residents. In addition to traditional health care services, residents are fortunate to have the opportunity to attend regular mass service on location. There is also pastoral care ministry provided to the residents. Pastoral care is designed to ensure that residents and their families realize that they have value and that they are not alone.
The Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation provided a grant to help Santa Maria refurnish two resident rooms. This is part of a project to furnish all 90 rooms by replacing the original furnishings from 1968.
The Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation donation will help us to upgrade and renew a conference room with flooring and technology to make it a more attractive and ergonomically appropriate area for meetings, presentations and prayer. The primary beneficiaries of this upgrade will be the individuals and groups who come to Queen’s House seeking the homey, comfortable and peaceful environment that we provide. These folks include the young, old, faithful, disillusioned, wounded, joyful, lonely, in love, broken, solid, sad and those celebrating – some here to say hello to old friends and others to bid farewell to loved ones. Your support allows us to continue to make a better difference in the lives of those we host. On their behalf, we say thank you.
St. Michael's Retreat
Celebrating 50 years in 2013, St. Michael's Retreat is an Interchurch retreat house, offering an environment where the silence of the soul can recover its voice. Retreats varying from a few hours to several days serve people of all religious traditions. When not in use for retreats, the facility is often booked by other groups of business, school, parish or other organizations for their workshops, meetings or retreats in our unique atmosphere.
We have a policy that no person is turned away because of inability to pay. The retreat house is a non-profit organization that strives to keep costs affordable by drawing some funding from contributions and support from fund raising projects as well as grants and other special donations. The grant received from Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation has benefitted St. Michael’s by enriching the appearance of the outside of the building, providing an appropriate welcome to visitors. The upgrades included the ‘St. Michael’s Retreat’ sign above the entrance, and repairs to the solar cross tower, which has become a beacon to many travelers. This goes a long way to achieving our goal to continue our ministry to over 5000 people who have come to benefit from attending our facility annually.
Catholic Family Services
The grant from the Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation will help us meet the increased demand for our services by providing support for a program coordinator. The program coordinator’s primary role is to manage our various programs and respond to the needs of both our program personnel and the clientele who participate in these programs.
The purpose of Catholic Family Services is to assist individuals and families to build on their strengths and find positive ways to understand and act when faced with challenges in their lives.
St. Peter's College Campus Ministry
The money donated by the Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation will be put towards the campus ministry program at St. Peter’s College – affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan.
Our campus ministry program is led by the Men In Black (MIB). This is a group of Benedictine Monks who are very active in the college community. They provide spiritual counselling and outreach to our students, staff and faculty, and support our Mission as animated by our Catholic Benedictine Tradition.
The MIB organize spectacular events such as the annual Medieval Feast, Student Orientation Day and Lunch with Benedict held once a month during the school year. Guest speakers address students and staff at the Lunch with Benedict. Among the speakers have been Bishop Bryan Bayda, CSsr of the Eparchy of Saskatoon, Sr. Theodosia Papirnik of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Saskatoon, Abbot Peter Novecoksy, OSB, Fr. Demetrius Wasylyniuk, OSB and, Rev. Colin Clay, an Anglican priest. They also provide nutritious food for students during exam time, known as “Brain Food”. As well, the beautiful pieces of artwork adorning the halls of St. Peter’s are displayed due to the support from the MIB. They focus their efforts on building our community to bring together students, staff, and faculty of all denominations in the spirit of friendship, fun, worship, and service.
Knights of Columbus Saskatchewan Indoor Games
The meet is held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada annually each January or February. Along with the 3000 plus elementary school students and Special Olympic athletes who compete in the meet, we bring in 70 of the top international track and field athletes who reside in North America to compete in invitational section of the meet.
The goal in hosting this meet is to provide the youth of Saskatchewan with positive role models by having the elemetary school students compete in the same meet as the international stars. They also provide the students of Saskatchewan schools the opportunity to meet and talk with these international athletes, about the value of setting goals and overcoming hurdles in life. These international athletes travel to Saskatoon early to visit inner-city schools around Saskatchewan.
The Prairie Messenger
The Prairie Messenger received a donation to cover the expenses of publishing six promotional ads for the Knights of Columbus. The ads will help showcase the work or projects of the Knights of Columbus in Saskatchewan.
Another donation was to help cover the expenses for archiving the past four years of the Prairie Messenger onto the newly acquired e-edition website: www.pmonline.ca. This will make it very easy for subscribers and researchers to find articles that they remember but can't remember where it was. The e-edition is fully searchable.
Coats for Kids
COATS FOR KIDS WOLLASTON LAKE
Martin Dolny, DD for District 17, accompanied by Father Maurice Fiolleau-Vicar General of the P.A. Diocese, Grand Knights Claude Archer and Darrell Olelsuik from P.A., Sir Knights Kerry Swallow and Maurice Chalifour, and Chris Bencharski- State Treasurer and Cluster Leader for District #17, delivered 400 coats to the children in Wollaston Lake December 18. Brother Martin piloted the airplane and coordinated the distribution of the coats. Following is the report I received from Brother Martin Dolny. The other day our Knights were treated by the community of Hatchet Lake First Nations (Wollaston Lake) to a special fish fry and bannek following our presentation of gifts. Additionally, we were privileged to meet and visit with Fr. Joji Chandamala who essentially is a young Catholic Priest [Indian ethnic origin] performing missionary duties for the Archdiocese of Keewatin-The Pas; Fr. Joji delayed his planned departure to Lac Broche to meet with his Bishop in order to participate with this event. I prepared a special Christmas care package for him that was culturally and personally appropriate (he does not consume certain meats); Fr. Joji seemed beside himself with the attention he received from our Knights and Fr. Maurice FIOLLEAU--Vicar General for Diocese of Prince Albert. I rather suspect that either a new RoundTable or even a full KofC Council will emerge at Wollaston Lake as a result of this visitation--a significant First emergence for the KofC in northern isolated Canada involving indigenous people of the North! Chief Tsannie of the Hatchet Lake First Nations is a very active community leader and in Ottawa each month lobbying for his people. On behalf of both the RCMP and Knights of Columbus I presented Chief Tsannie with a traditional decorated pouch of tobacco laden with KofC pins and other decorations as a token of our mutual friendship and support; Chief Tsannie was more than pleased with our gifts and visit and I'm sure we'll hear more of this visit from our current government officials at Ottawa. It was, in my view, a success for both the KofC, Diocese of PA and for the local community of Wollaston Lake.
Fort McMurray Fire Victims
The Sask K of C Charitable Foundation accepted donations for victims of the fire disaster at Fort McMurray. Individual donations were sent through to the Red Cross and then matched by the Federal Government. This option ended May 31st, 2016. There were two Councils in Fort McMurray including the 24 members who have lost their homes. Total donations received were $27,639.00. This truly exemplifies the lesson of Charity.
Palliative Care and Hospice Services at St. Paul’s Hospital
We are extremely grateful for the generous donation from the Marty and Claire Schneider Endowment, alongside the Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation, to Palliative Care and Hospice Services at St. Paul’s Hospital. This area of care encompasses all needs of patients experiencing end-of-life care and their family members, attending to them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This generous gift will support not only our Palliative Care Unit, but patients throughout St. Paul’s that require end-of-life care, ensuring they are comfortable, and that their families and loved ones are supported. Pictured above are some of the healthcare staff in the Palliative Care Unit, a very special place at St. Paul’s Hospital.
My Generation Youth Rally
Archdiocese of Regina
The 2017 MyGen Youth Rally was held on Apr 1 & 2. Approx 150 Grade 9 to 12 youth with some 70, or so, leaders came together at O’Neill High School in Regina. Singing, presentations, games & time for meditation filled the 1 1/2 days. Saturday afternoon the participants were bussed to Senior centres, Food bank & other organizations to do outreach tasks with residents & staff. Regina Chapter K of C Councils very involved from the set-up/take-down to registrations to serving of snacks/meals as well as providing all night security to insure no mishaps occur. A learning & positive environment for all. Thanks to the K of C Charitable Foundation for your on-going support to this important youth activity!
Campion Lift Project
Pictured (left to right): Pierre O'Reilly, Director of Development, Campion College; James Gustafson, Executive Director, Campion College; Harvey Granatier, CEO, Sask KofC Charitable Foundation; Brian Schatz, State Deputy, Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus; and, Greg Dozorec
Millennium Cross Grant
The Millennium Cross located 10 km NE of Aberdeen, Saskatchewan along Highway 41. The original wooden cross was blessed by Rev Bryan Bayda in October 1999. Since that time, the wooden cross has been replaced with a steel structure. The Millennium Cross site is available for people to come and pray for the victims of abortion. There is also an annual pilgrimage dedicated to the unborn and attended by supporters of all ages.
The Sask K of C Charitable Foundation were pleased to partner with St Peter & Paul Council # 11775 in installing LED lighting that now distinctly outlines the cross to all travelers along Highway 41.
For more information and brochures, visit their website here.
MyGen Youth Rally
In 2016, the Regina Archdiocese in partnership with the Knights of Columbus, CWL and Regina Separate Schools hosted the 4th Annual MyGen Youth Rally. The weekend event was attended by 115 Grade 9 – 12 students from throughout the Diocese. In addition to group discussions and presentations, the participants were invited to participate in ‘Works of Mercy’ within the community. These included interacting and offering support at senior centers as well as the Food Bank and other nonprofit organizations. Social activities each evening included music, interactive camaraderie and fellowship as well as a basketball game against the clergy. It is the intent of the volunteers to host this event again in 2017.
Click here to view pictures from the 2016 rally--> Pictures from 2016
Walter Buckingham Presentation November 13, 2016
Al Dion, Grand Knight Shellbrook Council 9761 stands between Brother Walter Buckingham and wife Gail Buckingham following a presentation of funds to them at St Agatha Church. Shellbrook Council partnered with the Sask K of C Charitable Foundation in providing financial assistance for Walter as he furthers his out of country cancer treatments.
Located on the south shores of Lake Katepwa in the Qu'Appelle Valley, Camp Monahan holds a place in the hearts of everyone who have spent their summers with them. Since 1945, their mission to provide a fun, challenging camping experience in a Christian setting stays true and keep generations coming back every year.
We supported the building of cabins at Camp Monahan which is located northeast of Regina, Saskatchewan.
A presentation was made on May 14, 2016. The $4,000 cheque was presented to Pam Schmidt, President of Camp Monahan Association by Martin Wrubleski. Fred Exner of Fr Burns Council also presented a cheque for $10,000.
St. Peter's College
Ken Miller (left) and Stan Wormsbecker (right) make a presentation to St. Peter’s College on behalf of the Fr. O’Leary Society Endowment Fund. Accepting the donation is Abbot Peter Novokosky.
The Fr. O’Leary Society Endowment Fund is managed by the Sask. Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation.
A Wheelchair Ramp for Frank Lacher
Father Gilpin Council #9760 partnered with the Foundation to provide long time member Frank Lacher with a wheelchair ramp to his home.
F.S. Pat Meuse presents Jo-Ann Lacher with the cheque from the Foundation to complete payment for the costs of the ramp. Council # 9760 provided the labour to build ramp and shared the cost of materials with the foundation.
A Special Bicycle For Young Onix
Parents Nathan & Sherry Dignard from Yarbo, together with twin brothers Presley and Fox, watch three year old Onix Dignard try out his special bicycle during a presentation at the State Charity Appeal banquet in Langenberg.
The special bicycle, funded by the Foundation in partnership with Gerald Council #6182, is designed to assist Onix to develop the muscle strength in his legs in order that he may enjoy and participate in activities that come naturally to other young children.
Also in attendance at the banquet were State Chaplain Bishop Bayda, District Deputy Curt Orth, K of C Foundation President Harvey Granatier, and State Deputy Gilles Doiron.
Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Award
A Recipient's Testimonial ...
"Winning this award means a lot to me, thank you very much. It will be a huge help during my last year of school helping me to buy textbooks. I grew up in a Catholic household with my father and his six brothers all being Third Degree Knights, also, my grandfather was a Fourth Degree Knight. I was always involved with Knights of Columbus fundraisers and enjoyed them and what they did for the community. After I graduate from SIAST I plan on working around Saskatoon and joining the Knights of Columbus like my family. Giving back to the community to help other students the way the Knights of Columbus has helped me would be fulfilling.
Thank you again for the generous award."
- Recipient of a 2013-2014 award, a Mechanical Engineering Technology student from SIAST Kelsey
Theology of the Body Conference
The Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation helped support the speaker, Christopher West, at the Theology of the Body Conference hosted by St. Therese School of Faith and Mission in 2013. West spoke on Pope John Paul’s vision of the human person – body, soul and spirit. In an intimate environment of study and prayer, participants discovered the deep significance of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God, why God created us male and female, how the physical union of man and woman is innately oriented toward life and love and how this union is the essential foundation for a life affirming society.
Natural Family Planning
The Natural Family Planning (NFP) Association (Saskatchewan) is a non-profit organization that promotes the Billings Ovulation Method of Natural Family Planning in accordance with the philosophy of Humanae Vitae. The method helps build greater love and understanding between husband and wife, respect for one’s fertility, and stable and happy families. The benefits of Natural Family Planning have far-reaching implications for society at large and the Knights of Columbus have manifested support to NFP in many ways, including from their Charitable Foundation.
As NFP Saskatchewan heads into its eight year, it is proud to report a growing awareness of the Billings Ovulation Method and its philosophies throughout Saskatchewan. This has been accomplished by hosting information nights, teacher training workshops, speaking at marriage preparation courses throughout the province, and countless volunteer hours of their eight accredited teachers and 19 teachers-in-training.
Columbus Bosco Homes Farm School
Columbus Bosco Homes Farm School was established in 1993 for at-risk high school students. This program serves approximately 30 students per year and provides them with the necessary skills in a rural setting so they can successfully return to their home schools and complete their high school credits. Students have the opportunity to be successful in a smaller setting and receive one-on one counseling and learn life skills. They develop responsibility through gardening, care of animals, and buildings and grounds maintenance thus learning respect for authority, perseverance, good character, trust and honesty. All these expected results ultimately help children, adolescents and parents step into the future together.
The grant helps support the program through covering part of the typical costs of operating the farm. The board members of Columbus Bosco Homes wish to thank the Foundation for its generous financial support.
St. Joseph's Park
The money donated by the Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation helped with the restoration and enhancement of St. Joseph's Park in Macklin.
St. Joseph's Park is dedicated to the Sisters of St. Elizabeth (1922-2010) for their years of service and dedication and care or the sick and elderly, both physically and spiritually.
It is with profound gratitude that we acknowledge the Sisters for their "Labour of Love". The dedication of the park took place on June 9, 2013, with Bishop Don Bolen officiating.
The Catholic Health Ministry of Saskatchewan will be assuming ownership of St. Joseph's Health Center.
As you enter the park, there is an information booth and the Cairn with the dedication plaque to the Sisters. The Stations of the Cross outline the perimeter of the park. The walkways are paved making them wheelchair accessible. These are the same paths used by the Sisters when out in prayer or relaxation.
Next, you will come to where the walkways intersect. You will notice the statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha to your left and the statue of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount to your right, complete with the beatitudes. This is a beatiful place for mediation with the Grotto in the background.
The Pieta located at the 13th station is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture by Michaelangelo. This famous work of art depicts the body of Jesus after the crucifiction on the lap of his mother.
The Grotto, the focal point of the park, is adorned with a hand-carved statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. The statue was made in Oberammergau, Germany and has been restored. The statue of Sr. Bernadette was added to complete the Lourdes scene.
The park is used by the residents of St. Joseph's and their families and is available for everyone to experience peace, beauty and serenity.
Together, we have done something beatiful for God and our Blessed Mother. This is truly "Holy Ground". Come and see!
Saskatchewan Knights Donate and Assist with Wheelchair Delivery in the Ukraine
It is often said that being a Knight of Columbus is an “Experience of a Lifetime”. It is a journey consisting of many once in a lifetime events living out our Catholic faith and our principles of Charity, Unity, Fraternity and Patriotism, along with our unwritten obligation/responsibility to support for our Priests and all Clergy. Recently a group of proud Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus members and their wives, supporting Bishop Bryan Bayda, Eparch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Saskatchewan, experienced their first trip to Europe, their first trip to the Ukraine and their first experience distributing wheelchairs to those in need. It was indeed a trip of a Lifetime and a roller coaster of emotions. The highs were being witness to the love, joy and hope that a wheelchair provides to a person in need; and the lows were seeing the human toll, economic impact, ruin and devastation caused by war and conflict.
For the third consecutive year, through the Canadian Wheelchair Foundation, Canadian Knights of Columbus distributed wheelchairs as well as crutches, walkers and canes to wounded soldiers and persons with disabilities in the Ukraine. This year’s delegation consisted of representatives of the Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus led by State Secretary Brian Schatz, his wife Lois, State Community Activities Director Eugene Achtemichuk, his wife Brenda, & Bishop Bryan Bayda, Eparch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Saskatchewan. They were accompanied by Knights John and Marie Lebersback from Regina and Ken and Betty-Anne Piecowye from Saskatoon. The Saskatchewan delegation was joined by Priests, Knights and their wives from the Ukraine as well as Christiana Flessner of the Canadian Wheelchair Foundation and Liudmilla Soukhareva from Caritas Ukraine. Christiana worked with Liudmilla to identify those most in need. For this shipment those most in need were found in Lviv, Zhovkva, Kyiv, Zaporizhia, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Krivomu Rozi, and Dnipropetrovsk – just 300 KMs from the front line. A total of 280 wheelchairs, 60 canes, 200 sets of crutches and 50 walkers were shipped to Ukraine. In Lviv alone, 30 wheelchairs, 5 walkers, 10 sets of crutches and 5 canes were distributed.
One of the first deliveries was at a Children’s Hospital in Lviv. While this hospital was one of, if not the top Children’s Hospital of Ukraine, it was far from state of the art for Saskatchewan standards. There is a lot of catching up to do. It is a mixture of new medicine with very old equipment and fixtures. The beds were a thin foam mattress (about 3/4” thick) and a spring cot. They would be so grateful if we could send them our unusable beds made of wood now in storage. Here the delegation met Olexander a 4 1/2 year old with Cerebral Palsy. His father left his mother just after he was born when the father became overwhelmed with all the care he required. He has never lived anywhere but at the hospital. He has never walked. Yet he was a happy-go-lucky young boy, full of life and a bit of a prankster, acrobat. He practically did backflips getting ready to be placed in his new chair. While all of the encounters were memorable and touching, he was the darling of the delegation, the one they will fondly remember always. He was a natural. Within seconds of being placed in his wheelchair he was wheeling up and down the hallways. While happy in his new chair, there remains a hope that someday he will walk.
One of the last deliveries, 10 wheelchairs, was at an Orphanage for Children with Disabilities. It warms the heart to watch in admiration as these children looked out for one another. Truly they were “thy brother’s keeper”. It wasn’t possible to provide a new wheelchair for all the children. But there wasn’t even a hint of envy or jealousy for those that did get a new wheelchair. They all were quick to point out if a wheelchair was too big or too small for the recipient. And they let everyone know if the recipient needed footrests or not. Here the delegation met another darling of the trip – a 10 year old girl who was playful, joyful and her smile, which she had all the time, lit up the room wherever she went.
There were two other hospital stops. One at the top Ukrainian Military Hospital in Kiev; the other at a hospital in Dnipropetrovsk. We are required to blur the faces of pictures of the soldiers out of an abundance of caution, not wanting the Russians to get information that would identification them. At both hospitals the delegation saw, first hand, the devastation of war. At the Military Hospital soldiers were bandaged and missing limbs. Some of them were preparing for more surgery after already having had more than 30 surgeries. In the hospital at Dnipropetrovsk we saw Russians who had joined the Ukrainian Army to fight against Putin and the Russian Army. They were disgusted by how the Russians invaded the Ukraine, the injustices that are resulting and the treatment of the Ukrainian people. They too were missing limbs and required mobility assistance that a wheelchair can provide.
Recipients and family gathered in the Lviv Roman Catholic Cathedral, where six chairs were blessed and solemnly given to persons with physical challenges. Anna, one of the recipients, noted that wheelchairs are not one-size-fits-all and every 2 years it should be changed. “We usually get a chair from the management of social protection: they don’t fit properly but we are grateful since many people do not have one at all and never leave the house. We waited a long time for these wheelchairs. I sincerely thank the Knights of Columbus and Caritas for their help.”
Recipients, family members, doctors, nurses, caregivers and neighbours were absolutely amazed and so thankful that a Ukrainian Catholic Bishop from Saskatchewan and a group of Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus members and wives would travel halfway around the world to assist in the delivery of wheelchairs. For them it was a miracle, a true gift from God. The Ukraine has a history of 32,000 years of civilized inhabitants; but today it has difficulty supporting its citizens and it is at war. Most of the people the delegation met could not contain their emotions as they learned about Saskatchewan, a province that is just 100 years old with a population of only 1.1 million of which about 13% is of Ukrainian decent and so willing to share more than $55,000 for a shipment of wheelchairs. Coverage of some distribution events was carried nationally by the newspapers, radio and Ukrainian Television. Knights of Columbus Head Office arranged for a film crew to follow distributions for the 3 days in Kiev.
Each home warmly welcomed the gift of a wheelchair. Bishop Bryan Bayda explained that it is through meeting those in need that we encounter Jesus Christ. We are shown examples of immense gratitude and we reflect on how much we have to be thankful for in life. We, unworthy though we are, have been asked by God to show His mercy to them and the recipients who hopefully will encounter Christ in us as well. Building the domestic church and thus building our parishes to be Vibrant Parishes is what took place in Ukraine. This was so evident at the Sobor of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in Kyiv when after the May 15 Sunday Divine Liturgy, 12 people received their chairs from the delegation.
At each of the stops the Saskatchewan Knights/wives delegation explained that the trip was an expression of our love for them as brothers and sisters in Christ. That our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they suffer with their disabilities and the ravage of war. We pray for peace and for healing. We also explained that it was important and rewarding for us to join our Brother Knights from the Ukraine who are just beginning the formation of Knights of Columbus Councils. The Ukrainian Knights are currently just over 350 members in 3 Councils. On behalf of all the Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus we shared love, joy and hope.
Some wheelchairs were taken to people in their homes by the delegation. Walter, who lives near Riasny is 27 years old and has been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for three years. Despite the disability and the barriers he encounters, his motivation is exemplar. He graduated (in absentia) from Forestry University, received the professional ecologist standing and studied English. His lifelong dreams are being realized, even in Ukraine where people with disabilities face many obstacles.
Ms. Irina appealed for help from Caritas Lviv. She is retired and is suffering from complications caused by diabetes. She contracted gangrene in one foot and cannot walk. Now, with a wheelchair, she can move around in her apartment. With a little help being carried down the apartment complex steps she can move around outside. (Ukraine has not yet developed/implemented accessibility standards. Doorways are narrow, many apartment buildings don’t have elevators and sidewalks/curbs are used for vehicle parking) Interestingly, it was Irina’s granddaughter who first found out about the wheelchairs being delivered in the Ukraine while attending mass at her parish of St. Basil’s in Regina. The granddaughter then encouraged her grandmother to contact Caritas Ukraine. It is a small world with many family ties. Another recipient, Stephen, suffered a stroke eight years ago. Now a wheelchair from Canada helps him to be more mobile. Mr. Eugene has been suffering with multiple sclerosis for more than 20 years. For the last five years he has not been able walk or get outside of his apartment. He was very grateful and emotional when receiving his wheelchair.
The program for Ukraine “Wheelchairs for People with Disabilities” was launched in 2014. The first delivery of wheelchairs resulted from a partnership between Caritas Ukraine and the Knights of Columbus of British Columbia and supported by the Canadian Wheelchair Foundation. Since that time Ukrainians with special needs have received 1,120 wheelchairs, 60 support poles, 200 crutches and 50 walkers from the Knights of Columbus from Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Manitoba.
“Today our country struggles to provide wheelchairs for the thousands of people in Ukraine with disabilities (perhaps 15% of Ukraine’s population). They find themselves cut off from society. These people have little or no access to medical or educational services. They cannot secure their living conditions, attend public institutions or cultural institutions – that is, to exercise their basic rights and needs. That is why this humanitarian aid from generous Canadians is very necessary and important, “- said Liudmila Soukharova, the Caritas Project Manager assisting people with disabilities.
One wheelchair costs approximately $190.00. It changes the life of the recipient. And it changes many more lives – family members, caregivers, and those involved with providing the wheelchairs – members of the Knights of Columbus, their wives, the Canadian Wheelchair Foundation and Caritas Ukraine.