1. List of orphanages in Ukraine chartered by Little League (LL) in Williamsport, PA to play baseball and softball. Only program of its kind in the world. 2. Photos from various orphanages 3. Ukraine LL Baseball - Orphanage Project Philosophy 4. Article written for the Ukraine Observer, May 2005, explaining why Baseball and Orphanages.
Ukraine Little League - Orphanage Project Philosophy
Ukraine Little League (LL) Baseball - Orphanage Project 2006 and beyond
In cooperation with:
The Help Us Help the Children Fund (HUHTC) Kyiv, Ukraine & Peace Corps - Ukraine.
Offer an after school baseball and softball program for children in orphanages (internats) and schools in Ukraine.
Further develop the baseball and softball program in Ukraine using the Little League model and implementing its philosophy.
Teach children importance of playing together, cooperating to reach a common goal, and in following and respecting rules, all skills needed for success in life.
Offer physical education teachers an opportunity to learn to teach a new sport.
Looking for larger ‘internat’ schools. Minimum of fifty children ages 9 - 12 in each school for the baseball program. A parallel softball program will be offered to boys and girls ages 13 and older. Schools with a soccer field which can be used for baseball and softball purposes.
The Help Us Help the Children Fund will recommend internats. Ukraine LL will provide all needed equipment, teaching materials, and training. Funds will be raised by Ukraine LL to pay for housing and meals for the participants during the training session.
Regular season games will be played in April and May. Two games to be played each week following LL rules and philosophy. Players to be divided into equally talented teams.
Season ending activities:
Each school chooses 12 players who excel academically, behaviorally and on the baseball field to form the school all-star team.
Each school sends their team to Kyiv to compete in a season ending tournament.
Report: 2006 expenses:
in cooperation with The Help Us Help the Children Fund (HUHTC) Kyiv, Ukraine & Peace Corps - Ukraine
Money collected from donations and sales of Ukrainian sports souvenirs, shirts and pins have allowed the following activities to be funded in 2006:
Paid the cost of housing, meals and souvenirs for seven teams that competed for the Ukraine LL Baseball Championships during a four day tournament. (Since 2000 and ongoing.)
Paid for the housing expenses for a physician, scorers, and umpires during the LL Championships. Paid for the field preparations and sound system. (Since 2000)
Paid the expenses of delivering equipment to orphanages, 2004 and ongoing
Paid the travel expenses, housing, and meals for teachers from orphanages who attended the two weekend baseball and softball clinics in 2006
Paid the expenses incurred when visiting orphanages interested in joining the LL family and the expenses for conducting on site baseball clinics with orphans, 2004 and ongoing.
Plan to pay a three month salary, $ 20 USD, for each coach/teacher from an orphanage to compensate those coaches for spending additional time with the children in 2007.
Paid the travel expenses for orphanages who competed at the LL finals in Kyiv.
Paid for the travel expenses of Little League coaches conducting a baseball and softball program at a summer camp for 600 orphans sponsored by HUHTC.
Donated $ 800 to help pay for the Ukraine Little League Champion, Kirovograd LL, to travel to Kutno, Poland to represent Ukraine at the European LL Championships. More can be done for the children with your help
Please consider helping me help the children of Ukraine.
Basil P. Tarasko District Administrator of the Little Leagues in Ukraine ( since 1995) BT4UKRAINE@aol.com Cell: 718 - 415 - 7821
Why is Ukraine Little League focused so much on Orphanages? Learn why here, in our District Coordinator's own words..
Orphanages (internats) and Little League Baseball in Ukraine
By Basil P. Tarasko
Scout - San Diego Padres Major League Baseball Club District Administrator of the Little Leagues (LL) in Ukraine Coach National Baseball Teams of Ukraine BT4UKRAINE@aol.com
“ Bat, bat” yelled the Ukrainian custom agent in the tiny airport in Odessa, Ukraine. “Go to counter seven.” This was the beginning of my 36th trip to Ukr since 1991. Along with me was Ms Beata Kaszuba, Director of Little League operations in Europe - Africa - Middle East, and Harold Weissman, my top assistant for Ukraine LL affairs in the USA. We just flew in from Warsaw, Poland where we prepared for a LL sponsored baseball clinic in Tiraspol, Moldova.
I quickly searched for my letter from Ms. Maryna Krysa, President of the Help Us Help The Children Fund (HUHTC), attesting that all baseball equipment that we were bringing in was for the intended use by orphans in Ukr. “ Well how much money do you have with you?”, strange question I thought, asked the agent at counter seven. I replied that I had over a thousand dollars with me. “Will you spend some in Ukraine” she queried. “ But of course” was my answer. “ Then go with God”, never looking into our bags. So off we went. Welcome to Ukraine, Odessa style.
On March 24, Sergiy, a local baseball coach, helped us locate an orphanage that was recommended to us by HUHTC fund. The director of the school had expressed an interest in adopting baseball as a new sport for her children. Ms. Ludmila Oleksandrivna, who had just won a court battle over her firing over political reasons, greeting us with open arms. We could just feel her warmth and her care for her children as we toured the internat. Ludmila introduced us to Lela Steel, a dynamic, bubbly woman born in 1925 the same year as Harold. This energetic lady from Florida moved to Odessa over ten years ago. Her mission, “from God” as she puts it, is to help children wherever she can. Lela, as a member of Harvest International, Inc. has led the effort to remodel internat # 4. It was amazing to us as we watched child after child run up to her, to hug and kiss her. There was love there. As I put on a New York Met baseball cap on Lela, I declared that this orphanage was ready for baseball.
Why were we visiting an orphanage? Well in 2003 I had organized the fourth and as it turned out the last LL conference for LL coaches. Since 1995, I have encouraged all the coaches in Ukraine to increase the number of children and teams playing baseball. Add more games to the schedule so that those young players can learn from playing the game and not be subjected to hours and hours of practice with just a few games a year.
Well my suggestions were not heeded, except in the city of Kirovograd. Harold and I had literally distributed thousand of pounds of donated equipment from scores of LLs in the US. And yet the number of children playing ball was actually decreasing. Why?
In Ukraine and in the rest of Europe the club system is used to build and develop teams. But these clubs are only for elite athletes. Only the best young athletes are recruited and the rest are turned away. The LL philosophy is just the opposite. It allows each and every child to participate no matter what their level of skill. No one is turned away. This idea was not taking hold in Ukraine.
There were over twenty LL charters submitted in the late 1990s, but almost all the charters listed but one team. To play games, each team had to travel to other towns. Some towns were hundreds of kilometers away. Each team had to find sponsors to pay for the travel costs. There teams were spread all over Ukraine. Very often the sponsor would bail out at the last moment leaving the kids stranded with no one to play against. Imagine that happening to you.
Little League was not growing in Ukraine. Harold and I were ready to pack our bags and to say good bye to baseball and to Ukraine. At that last LL meeting in 2003 we heard coach after coach complain about the amount of equipment that they received. “Why did he get more than me.” LL is not in the business of handing out equipment. That is the function of each LL. Instead of hearing thank you, we heard disapproval. Harold and I just had enough of this negative atmosphere from these coaches.
What to do? I asked myself this most important question, where are the children? Just find the schools which have a large student population. Then I met Ms. Maryna Krysa, President of HUHTC fund, who advised that there are hundreds of orphanages in Ukraine. I then realized exactly where the children were in Ukraine.
We began to identify internats which had at least fifty children ages 9 - 12. Maryna began calling the directors of the schools to see whether there was any interest in adding baseball to their sports program, if there was a sports program.
Yes there was interest but not in each internat. In 2004, internats in Radomichel and Zhytomyr joined the LL program. That March, Harold and I distributed a ‘starter’ kit, all the necessary equipment needed for fifty kids to play ball to those two internats. We also conducted their first ever baseball clinic to those young orphans. We were greeting with cheers and smiles. There were boys and girls, no one was turned away. That’s the Little League way.
The Ukraine LL Baseball and Orphanage Project, in cooperation with HUHTC fund, now in its second year, provides all necessary equipment, provides basic training for new coaches in those internats, and a monetary stimulus for three months to compensate those teachers who are spending extra time with the orphans.
Now in 2005, there are four internats which are a part of the LL family and three internats awaiting equipment and necessary training. Care to help?
You may ask, what happened to those LLs in towns and cities. All coaches were informed that in order to charter you now need to have at least four teams ages 9-12. If not, wait until you those four teams. Needless to say, the number of charters has fallen from 20 to 4. But four real LLs.
Harold and I found a new cause, a new reason to return to Ukraine, We found the children, the orphans which I call the “almost forgotten children.” Each and every internat that we have visited provided us the honor of meeting dynamic and caring directors and special teachers. Each and every adult totally committed to help the child grow. The future of Little League baseball in Ukraine begins with the orphans of Ukraine. Care to help?
Back to trip #36. March 25-27 in the city of Tiraspol located in the Transdnistria Republic of Moldova. This Republic is not recognized as such by Moldova nor by any other country in the world. But Little League International sponsored a baseball clinic for all new and inexperienced baseball coaches in Eastern Europe. The clinic was conducted in three languages: English, Ukrainian and in Russian. This three day presentation attracted 27 coaches from twelve different cities in Ukraine and in Moldova.
Among the attendees were three Peace Corps volunteers from Moldova, The official US policy is not to allow any PCVs into the Transdnistria Republic due to unstable conditions. I asked John, one of the volunteers, how they were able to attend the clinic? Did they enter illegally at night? John, replied that volunteers can travel to Tiraspol during the day but they must return before nightfall. In this case they received special permission to stay for three nights in dangerous Tiraspol. We were glad to have these wonderful volunteers as our guests. Each one is planning to start a LL program in their town.
Monday March 28, back in Ukraine, trip # 37. We are met by Vitaliy Lizogubenko. Ukraine government baseball trainer and my top LL assistant in Ukraine. I have known Vitaliy for thirteen years and trust him with my life. Off we were to Pantayivka, where we were to visit an orphanage located in the Kirovograd oblast.
Once again we met an enthusiastic staff that welcomed our mission. In a tiny gym we showed sixteen boys and girls the basics of throwing, catching, fielding and hitting even though there was a volley ball net set up in the middle of the gym. We had the kids wear a set of uniforms donated by a LL in Berlin, Ct. They looked just like the kids back home. Boy where the kids eager to learn and try this new sport. In the 90 minute session we noticed that the skills introduced would be mastered in the not to distant future. There was talent in that gym.
The kids received baseball cards, and a brand new one dollar bill from Harold as souvenirs. Harold informed the kids “that the dollar bill had to be spent in the US.” The kids walked away with a smile and a dollar bill and a dream of spending that bill in the US. Anything can happen in life.
Now you know why Harold and I will travel to any orphanage in any part of Ukraine that will have us. We do not want anything we just want to help. By introducing baseball to orphanages, this new sport will grow in Ukraine. These orphans will improve by playing more and more games the LL way. There is talent out there. Some of these orphans will eventually earn a spot on the Ukrainian National team in the future. That, I believe will happen.
I have organized another baseball clinic for April 23-24 for all teachers and coaches of baseball from orphanages participating in the LL program. Funds are being raised to pay for all the transportation and housing costs. Care to help? This year? Next year?
March 30 - April 2: To Kyiv to visit with our partners.
Visit with Mr. John Herbst, US Ambassador to Ukraine, who is an avid supporter of the LL philosophy especially our venture into internats. Last spring, Nadia Herbst, wife of the Ambassador, presented donated baseball equipment to the orphans in the city of Zhytomyr. We kept the Ambassador up to date on our trip to three countries.
Visit with Ms. Olena Welhasch, Ukraine Country Director of the Children of Chornobyl Relief Fund (CCRF). This organization has pledged to ship nearly two hundred boxes of donated baseball and softball equipment to orphanages and schools participating in the LL program. We thank CCRF for their support and encouragement.
Visit with Ms. Maryna Krysa, President of HUHTC fund. This fund is organizing its annual two week camp in the Carpethian Mountains this August for 600 orphans ages 14 - 16. I have pledged to send four softball coaches to begin to teach and train future coaches in internats. Care to help?
Visit to Peace Corps Headquarters. I was invited by Ms. Helen Petrozolla, an energetic, forward thinking Deputy Director Program and Training Officer, to speak to twenty-three new volunteers for Ukraine specializing in Youth Development, a new category of volunteer.
I started off by thanking all the volunteers for devoting part of their lives to help Ukraine, the land of my parents and all my ancestors. Most of these volunteers indicated that are planning to start a softball program in their towns modeled after the LL program which most of them participated in back in the US. Visions of hundreds of Ukrainian kids playing softball this summer danced in my mind.
I advised each of them to contact their hometowns in the US and to request needed equipment to be shipped directly to their schools in Ukraine. I am sure that local papers in the US will pick up the story and run with it. In turn, I will contact the area District Administrators and get them to help. Care to help?
Here we have a cadre of Americans who will recruit local Ukrainian coaches and teachers and teach them how to coach softball. This is a tremendous positive step in building up the softball program in Ukraine. The key is to attract competent Ukrainian counterparts to continue coaching after the volunteers are gone. Will that happen? Stay tuned.
June 2- 5 in Kyiv: The sixth annual Ukraine LL (ages 11-12) Country Championships will be held for the right to represent Ukraine in Kutno, Poland at the European Championships.
Four chartered LLs in Ukraine will battle for the title. In addition some orphanages will be invited to play exhibition games to show the skills they learned in the past few months.
It is my responsibility as District Administrator to raise funds to pay for the housing and meals for all the participants for four days. Care to help?
A special thanks to my friend Harold Weissman, who this year celebrated ten years of travel to Ukraine as a volunteer. He is wise, full of positive vibes and truly committed to helping the orphans of Ukraine. He listens well, never yells, and offers constructive alternatives. Without his guidance I would be lost.
My mentor and friend, Harold. Many more years for you. Thank you.
1. List of orphanages in Ukraine participating in the Little League baseball and softball program
1. Vitaliy and Harold sharing their knowledge of baseball with orphans from Zhytomyr. (March 2004) 2. Vitaliy Lizogubenko, Assistant District Administrator for Ukraine LL and Member of Ukraine's Ministry of Sports for baseball development, along with Gregoriyy Grushetskyy, Assistant District Administrator for Ukraine LL for Financial Matters and sponsor. Thank you both for your help. (June 2006) 3. Orphans from Syevorodonetsk LL examine donated baseball and softball equipment (June 2006) 4. Peace Corps volunteer showing orphans in Zhytomur proper way to hold a baseball (March 2004) 5. Zhytomyr orphanage receiving donated equipment from the United States (3-06) 6. Coach Tarasko explaining to children in Zhytomyr how to grip a baseball (3-06) 7. Happy orphans in Sumy accepting baseball and softball equipment (June 2006) 8. Sign welcoming all to the orphanage in Ostroh, Riven Oblast, home for deaf children. (May 2006) 9. Orphans from Syevorodonetsk trying on some baseball equipment (June 2006) 10. Photo of deaf orphans who participated in an informal baseball clinic in Ostroh (May 2006) For more information and pledges of financial help to make this project a success, please contact:
Basil P. Tarasko, District Administrator of the Little Leagues in Ukraine Cell: 718 - 415 - 7821 USA e-mail: BT4UKRAINE@aol.com
Ms. Maryna Krysa, President, Help Us Help the Children Fund (HUHTC) in Ukraine P.O. Box 282 Kyiv - 55 , 03055 Ukraine Tel / fax (044) 454 - 8261, 8224 e-mail: email@example.com