The UAC scholarship program assists young people who are leaving various Odessa Orphanages and attempting to get ahead in their lives. These can be trade schools, universities, or technical colleges. UAC, through their Odessa Director, Peter Panin, works with the students to assist in legal, administrative, housing, and placement exams. Once in a school, UAC then monitors each student for compliance with the program requirements. In return for a $50 per month stipend, each scholarship student is required to work 16 to 20 hours in one of the Odessa orphanages and a time sheet is turned in to the UAC staff. This stipend is usually the only money the student has to meet living expenses with.
More than 30 parishioners signed up for the program and became the boy’s American “families”. The sponsors chose 8 boys--(“Rustam, Vitaly, Vova, Kolya, Victor, Vitaly, Stanislav and Anatoly” see picture above) and created the “Families for Fontanka Boys” program. Each boy has a group of sponsors who have joined together as one family. Some boys have as many as 6 sponsors, who then share the $57 per month expense between them. The boys write regular letters to their sponsors and the sponsors are also encouraged to write back to the student. UAC facilitates the translation of letters and then forwards them via email to the church’s Program Director, John Nickleach, who then distributes them.
In August, the sponsors joined together and created packages to send to the boys, via the church’s highly successful Bundles for Ukraine program. School supplies, shoes, shirts, and snacks comprised the packages, which are scheduled to arrive in Odessa in October.
The “Families for Fontanka” sponsors are now awaiting news from the boys and their plans (hopefully) to remain in school for a second year. Career choices for the boys include: auto mechanic, pastry chef, welder, teacher, and one boy wants to be a boxer, so he studies gymnastics.