On February 12-19 for the first time, Social Service Week was held in Sambir-Drohobych Diocese. The highlights of the event were concentrated in the local Caritas. The organizers considered this event as an opportunity to remind of charity, to understand the problems of people under Caritas’ care and find out more about help that receive the needy and additional support they require as well as promote volunteering and raise funds for charitable purposes.
During the week, everyone had the opportunity to participate in the Open Day in the office of Caritas in Drohobych. There was a possibility to experience the working hours of social workers who care for hundreds of needy and attend a seminar on the psychology of the relationship involving the participation of professors and students of Ivan Franko State Pedagogical University in Drohobych, psychologists and graduates of the Family Consultant School. During the event, fun flash mob was organized for children. It was attended by local pupils, volunteers and youngest wards of Caritas Drohobych from the Centre for Social and Psychological Assistance of Children and Youth with Learning and Socialization Difficulties ‘Stronger Together’. Participants of the flash mob were encouraging people on the streets to participate in dances, games and competitions, they talked and sang about love and shared symbolic hearts. The motto of the event was: “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
One of the key events of the week was the charity dinner organized by Amazing Hands Center for Youth with Special Needs in the cafe of Bethany community. There were present the city representatives, social services workers, volunteers, friends, of the Center, and Bishop of the Sambir-Drohobych Diocese Hryhoriy (Komar). He commented on the event: ” It is really a privilege to be among you. It is our human nature to feel constant need of each other. God the Lord created us in such a way that everyone wants to have friends and neighbors to share with them thoughts, open them our heart and expect help from them.” Guests had the opportunity to meet with the pupils of the Center, listen to poetry they performed and just talk to youth and parents about their successes and challenges. Also they visited the workshop and rooms where young people are working. It was an interesting experience for visitors, while often young people with special needs are “invisible” to the government and social services.
One of the wards, Myron, shared his impressions on his participation in the work of the center: “I thank God for Caritas! I love helping our neighbors and to be assistant in our kitchen, this is probably my profession – to work here, in the center. Here I have learned to embroider and make beaded necklaces. I’m happy and glad that I have such special friends who can support me in trouble. I want us to be united, then we all succeed.” Director of Caritas Ihor Kozankevych said, summing up the event: “Looking at you, I understand that we need very little in our life to be happy. When we want something small, we thank God when we get it.” Head of the Center Ludmyla Smolen’ thanked all participants, noting that the center has got new friends who will be able to support its work in future.
With the support of residents of the mutual aid community “Our Home” which cares for homeless and lonely people who lost their homes and relatives in different life circumstances, there was organized a distribution of hot meals for the needy and homeless people on the Shevchenko square in Drohobych.
At the end of the Social Service Week in the Church of Hieromartyr Omelian Kovch (Rykhtychi village), the diocesan pilgrimage was held, led by Bishop Hryhoriy. After the Liturgy, all guests, volunteers, priests and Caritas workers tasted delicious kulish (maize flour porridge) prepared by residents of Our Home Community. They welcomed guests in a rehabilitation center ‘Nazareth’. After the meal, all interested had an opportunity to communicate with people after rehabilitation and to hear stories about their overcoming addictions and starting new life. Besides, everyone had a chance to visit the homeless shelter and to communicate with former homeless people.