exchange] [tourism development] [law
assistance] [support for the arts]
assistance efforts began in January 1991 with the making of
arrangements for an American medical doctor and a nurse, Wayne and
Lori Tilson, to review Vladimir's healthcare needs and report back
to their colleagues in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. This helped initiate
a substantial ongoing Sister Cities' medical assistance program.
Homes first major project involved getting two very nice sets
of playground equipment donated, shipped to Vladimir, and assembled
at an orphanage and a boarding school for deaf children in the fall
of 1993. [link to the playground equipment articles--below] We have
continued to assist the orphanagewith the help of others. For
example, one of the regular criminal justice tour groups
delivered a substantial number of high quality donated childrens
shoes, and a tourism development group presented the kids
(at the orphanage staffs request) with eight bicycles and tricycles.
We have also repaired the playground equipment when local vandals
have damaged it. Two different articles on the donated playground
equipment appeared in local Vladimir papers, and translations can
be read here and here.
Along with the tourism development team, in the summer of 2004 we
arranged for two recreation specialists to go to Vladimir to assess
the situation. Dr. Barbara Schlatter (ISU) and Dr. Marta Moorman (University
of Nebraska at Kearny) obtained university grants to cover their travel
expenses and to purchase some recreation equipment. In addition to
surveying local recreation needs, they introduced disk golf,
made a contribution of holds to the local wall climbing
program, and gave some skateboards and rollerblades to a local club.
On returning to the States a funding request for a skatepark was submitted
to the Tony Hawk Foundation. Unfortunately, all the available Foundation
funds were committed to American projects.
We are continuing to look for ways to make a contribution in this
area. Among other things, as Dr. Schlatter and Dr. Moormans
initial report noted, a well-developed
summer recreation program can help keep teenagers in particular
productively occupied. This was followed in 2006 by a
collaborative report by Schlatter, Moorman, and Yelena Bychkovskikh,
of the Vladimir City Administration, which addressed the issue in
In 2005 we arranged for an ISU College of Nursing faculty member to
review the Vladimir Regional Children's Trauma Hospital's needs and
make recommendations to a group in California that was interested
in providing assistance. Along the way we have sent donated medical
equipment and medical supplies with tour groups; we have helped guide
through Russian Customs other donated
medical shipments; and, especially during the initial period after
the collapse of the Soviet system, we delivered a variety of medications
and other items to individuals and organizations.
When tour group participants and others have wanted
to provide financial assistance, weve identified productive
ways to put their aid to work and/or arranged for the transfer
of the funds to Vladimir. For example, one donor provided the funds
to purchase a computer and a copier for the Youth Health and Education
Center. This organization works very hard with very limited
resources to help troubled teenagers, their parents, teachers,
and school administrators. When the staff was told they were getting
this equipment they reportedly broke into a spontaneous cheer.
Early on, when bureaucratic turmoil could be especially
unpredictable, we were able to assist with several adoptions. The
positive reputation of the American Home can sometimes help move
The orphanage staff requested
play dough that didnt stick or stain.
We were able to facilitate the donation of Play Clay, which was just
what they wanted!
to arranging for the transfer of funds meant to assist individuals
and organizations, we regularly help with communication problems,
and provide logistical support, for example, loaning visiting
specialists and educators mobile phones.
|I have traveled to
Russia many times in connection with work, either to conduct research
or participate in student/faculty exchanges, and the people at
the American Home have been extremely helpful. They have helped
me obtain letters of invitation, arranged home stays and transportation,
and even loaned me a mobile phonewhich was invaluable because
I tend to get lost easily!
Last May (2009) was the first exchange that my nursing program
had with the program in Vladimir. I traveled with two nursing
students, and we stayed with different families. It was wonderful
to have the use of phones from the American Home so that we could
stay in contact, thus allowing me to update them on schedule changes
and transportation. And obviously, having the phone made it easier
for my colleagues at the Medical College in Vladimir to contact
Not only have the staff at the American Home helped facilitate
my travel, they also have offered kindness and hospitalitythey
are ever-ready with a cup of hot tea and dish of chocolates. They
are truly wonderful. I dont know what I would have done
~ Wendy Woith, PhD, RN
in 2009, we started helping a chess club In Bloomington-Normal link
up with chess clubs in Vladimir and organize Internet tournaments.
(When one Russian team didn't have the necessary Internet connection,
we arranged for them to play the match at the American Home.) In
general, when possible, we attempt to use our experience, contacts,
reputation, and material resources to get things done ourselves and
to help others provide significant assistance. See, for example, the
by Norm Manzer concerning his churchs efforts to provide
transitional assistance to older orphans.
We've even managed to be of some assistance in Moscow. When
one of the tour groups visited the very sobering GULAG Museum in Moscow,
they noted that their one brochure was available only in Russian.
When he returned to Vladimir after seeing the tour group off at the
airport, Dr. Pope took on the task of translating the brochure's interesting
text into Englishwith the help of several of the AHs Russian
staff. We were informed that our translation was useduntil they
switched to a new brochure.
(We regularly translate
between Russian and English information and documents for a variety
of not-for-profit organizations and for individuals. We also
translate for a reasonable fee things like restaurant
menus, and we provide editing services. Regarding the latter, we hope
that as things progress our editing services will be taken advantage
of more frequently. Good quality English text in books and
other written documents will have multiple benefits.)
Finally, the American Home periodically makes financial contributions
to organizations that the AH staff knows will put the assistance to
Our motto: Just because we cant do everything, doesnt
mean that we cant at least help get some worthwhile things done.