Fundraising dinner for Ukraine

Moving, uplifting, emotional, informative and so well attended; there are so many ways to describe a very successful fundraising event for Ukraine, which was organised in partnership with the St Mary’s Magdalene Church in Welwyn Garden City and the Focolare Movement at the Focolare Centre for Unity on 26th March 2022

Over 100 people were present, not only from WGC but also from across the county.

All participants had an opportunity to try delicious Ukrainian food provided by the ‘Taste It’ Polish restaurant in Hatfield, network, listen to a wonderful presentation about the “unknown Ukraine” and learn the Ukrainian national anthem in sign language. However, most importantly, attendees came together to show their solidarity with the Ukrainian community. At least £1000 was raised during the event.

One of the event co-organisers, The Rev’d Emma Hopegood Jones, parish priest of St Mary Magdalene Church, said: “We are delighted at the huge support and generosity that has been shown by the whole community towards the people of Ukraine, and the huge success of our incredible fundraising dinner. At St Mary Magdalene, we are committed to living God’s love in practical ways, and helping our community here in Welwyn Garden City to show our love and care for neighbours – both those close to home and those further afield. God’s love for all knows no boundaries.”

Elena Protic, another of the co-organisers, is a resident of Welwyn Garden City and is Ukrainian by origin.” She added: “”I am very grateful to everyone who took part in organising this event. The team was fantastic! I would also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came. The level of support was extremely high. It is hard to express my feelings when I saw gifts and a video made by children from Stevenage. It was so moving. Living thousands of miles away from Ukraine, they showed their solidarity and support to Ukrainian children. I am speechless. This gesture touched the bottom of my heart.”

Michal Siewniak, also from the organising team, concluded: “We were overwhelmed with the amount of support for our fundraising dinner. All tickets sold out in 48 hours. It just shows that although the war in Ukraine is still affecting us all, we are all keen to make a difference. Each act of generosity, however small, helps to bring hope and comfort to those, who are forced to flee and abandon their homes and native country. For me, one of the most moving moments of the event was the presence of Irina, a Ukrainian refugee, who arrived in Stevenage in Hertfordshire only a week ago. Let’s hope that she, and members of her family, feel our huge support. Let’s also hope that a similar fundraising event will be organised in the future as there is a huge community “appetite” for it!