ITHACA, N.Y.—Mary Kane, President of the Rotary Club of Ithaca sets the stage: “Rotary is a worldwide organization of people who do what they can when they see a need. Our shared humanity requires it.”

On Sunday, February 19, 2023, 25 Rotarians volunteered to support Ukraine’s children. Rotarian Sherrie Negrea brought together musicians and visual artists who dedicated their work to raise over $5,100 to upgrade a school bomb shelter in Lviv, Ukraine.

“The over 300 people present at the concert and art auction were one community, supporting the children, their teachers and parents in Ukraine,” Mary said. “All in attendance received the gift of the experience of belonging to a caring community.”

The Ithaca Rotary Club has long been committed to doing for others in need, and partnering with other organizations all over the world to bring fresh water to communities and schools in Costa Rica; to provide mosquito nets in Africa; to bring education about hygiene to young people in Rwanda; and to send books from our community to schools around the world. 

The Ithaca Rotary Club’s collaboration with the Rotary Club in Lviv, Ukraine, allowed Rotary to make a difference in the Lviv community. To date, Ithaca Rotary has raised $41,000 for upgrades to school bomb shelters. One rotarian, Gertrude Noden, wrote a successful grant from Rotary International for $25,000.

The benefit concert showcased dozens of musicians from the Ithaca Community Orchestra, Kendal Chorus, and the Opus Ithaca School of Music. Half of the music performed was written by Ukrainian composers, including Sergei Prokofiev. Emmanuel Sikora, who performed his concerto debut with the Ukrainian Festival Orchestra in 2021, received an enthusiastic response for the magnificent piece he composed and performed.

Rotarian Sherrie Negrea, lead Ukraine concert organizer and enthusiastically received flutist at that concert, moved to Ithaca in 2000. After a career in Rochester as a journalist, she is now a freelance writer. When asked how she linked with the Rotary Club of Ithaca, Negrea explained that a friend invited her to a meeting, and Negrea was inspired by the rotary’s support of projects locally and elsewhere.  

“I wanted to work on something to help Ukraine, because I felt a particular connection to that country,” Negrea said. “Three of my grandparents are from Ukraine, and my father is a Holocaust survivor from Romania. I felt like I had to do something to help the Ukrainian people, and Rotary gave me an opportunity to do that.”

“We have raised money to upgrade bomb shelters in two schools,” she added. “The first was a high school, and we raised $31,000 for that project, which involved installing a permanent bathroom, a medical office, comfortable chairs and benches, and portable heaters. The second school is a K-12 school that serves children with special needs. That project, which involves removing walls and constructing a classroom and gymnasium, is estimated at $65,000, and the cost is being shared by several Rotary Clubs worldwide.”The fundraiser will continue until March 15. Tax-deductible donations can be made through the Community Foundation of Tompkins County Rotary Club of Ithaca Fund. (Donors can type in the “Rotary Club of Ithaca Fund” and specify “Ukraine” in the comments.) Those interested can also make a check to Rotary Club of Ithaca (with Ukraine written in the memo) and please send to Rotary Club of Ithaca, P.O. Box 306, Ithaca, NY 14851.