Saturday, 19 December 2009

Christmas Parties Update

Here we are!  The last weekend before Christmas!

We have two charity projects going on during Christmas week: the Christmas party at the Sisters of Mother Teresa Shelter and some giving goodness at a Gerontology Rehabilitation Center on Kalvariju, in the Verkiu forest (Stations of the Cross).

For the party at the shelter, I would like to thank Judith for her generosity!  Thanks to her the children attending the party will each receive a snowman baggy with a candy cane, a Christmas tattoo, a felt ornament or a little Chrismtas critter -- plus some other homebaked goodies.  I also have a humongous teddy bear to give away to the lucky winner of a drawing.

Also, thanks to our members we gathered more than enough gifts for the female residents of the shelter; we still need a few for the male occupants.

On Monday we'll be preparing food crates for the families.  On Tuesday morning we'll be preparing goodies and decorations for the party at 2 pm.

Most of you probably don't know about the event at the gerontology center.  When Barbara and I decided that we wanted to target older folks for our gift-giving at the MMS, I had contacted a home near my house to find out how many residents they had: 140!  We ended up asking for a more manageable number of gifts for the Mother Teresa shelter.  But I had already got the gerontology center excited! 

So I've managed to put together 65 gifts so far, which will be used to embellish common areas (dining room, living rooms, etc.).  With a little groveling on my part, the Italian Embassy generously donated five of the beautiful blankets they were selling at the Christmas Bazaar, plus four pandoro (my favorite:  a kind of panettone without the dried fruit and with powdered sugar to sprinkle on top) and other yummy sweets.

In the midst of my scouring Vilnius for goodies, Barbara called up and asked if I wouldn't mind having some money for the party at the shelter -- a donation of some extra proceeds from the Christmas Bazaar!  We came to a decision to split the donation between the shelter and the gerontology center.  So now both recipients have money to buy extra Christmas trees, decorations and food for their holiday celebrations!

I hope to see some of you at the shelter on Monday or Tuesday!
IWAV Charity Coordinator

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

IWAV December Social - Christmas Cocktails and Desserts

Here are some photos and a video from the Christmas MMS party at the Radisson Hotel last night. I can not give you a complete account of the evening as I could only attend for a few minutes. But even in this short time I really enjoyed the cozy atmosphere of the Radisson bar and the friendly and attentive service. As you can see from the video there was a good turn out and everyone was having a very nice time!
:-) Galina

Volunteer for Holiday Cheer!

Volunteers needed for Christmas.  We have a lot going on.  This is your chance to get involved. 

When:  December 21st at 9 am
Where:  the Sisters' soup kitchen on Sv. Stepono/Paneriu g.
What:  preparing food crates for families in need

When:  December 22nd at 9 am
Where:  the Sisters' soup kitchen
What:  preparing/decorating/conducting 2pm Christmas party for families in need

When:  sometime very soon :-)
Where:  VU EKMI gerontologijas centras (gerontology center) on Kalvariju g. 323
What:  buying and transporting a couple of Christmas trees, some ornaments and some sweets, plus delivering gifts (taken care of), and "warming some hearts"

For the first two, just show up.
For the gerontology center, please contact me directly at

IWAV Charity Coordinator

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity

Breda and I had a lovely meeting yesterday with Sister Francilene of the Sisters of Charity. The sisters, all English-speaking and from all four corners of the earth, run a soup kitchen and shelter for homeless and recovering alcoholics near the train and bus stations. They are currently housing 16 adults, serving about 150 homeless people in the soup kitchen, and providing takeaway crates of food to 100-150 families in the Vilnius area who do not receive any government assistance. These families are personally monitored by the sisters who have selected them for assistance on the basis of need and absence of anyone in the family who might trade the food for alcohol or drugs.

The sisters have many needs!

Immediate Needs:
* Towels
* Footwear

We saw the pantry. For a soup kitchen serving hundreds of people, there is not a huge stock of food in there. We will cover some of their needs thru the food drive in January.
But they will also take fresh food leftover from receptions. I have asked our member, Lis, to head up a project of collecting leftover food from embassy receptions. But, please, if you have leftovers from any of your holiday events, please take it down to the Sisters.

The Sisters visit needy families every day. They use public transportation and also visit homes in the suburbs, so these visits are very time-consuming and, probably, tiring for them. If anyone is interested in spending a morning driving one of the sisters around town, please let me know. Again, all of the sisters speak English.

Kitchen Helpers:
Anyone is welcome from 9 am on to help out in the kitchen, peeling, chopping, cleaning, filling up the takeaway food crates, and doing whatever might be helpful.

Christmas Parties:
The Sisters are organizing Christmas events for each of the different groups they serve. There will be a party for the homeless who use the soup kitchen, one for the residents of the shelter, one for the children (we chatted with a lovely sister -- whom I know has been struggling to get used to life in the shelter after working in Calcutta -- who was sewing up gorgeous little puppets for a puppet show.), and one party for the families who receive the crates of food. This party will take place on December 22nd and IWAV Members are invited to whip up some goodies and come help decorate the dining room for this special Christmas event for families in need. Baked goods, candies (I have some candy canes), fruit salad (I doubt these families get a lot of fresh fruit) are all good ideas. Buying stuff is also permitted. There will probably be sandwich fixings available for us to put together starting at 9 am on December 22nd. I think I'll get some of my spiced apple cider going on the stove. And thanks to one of our members, I now have plenty of little goodies to pass out to the children!

Christmas Gifts:
You are also requested to provide a small wrapped gift for the shelter residents (11 men and 5 women, 3 of whom are currently in hospital) at our December 14th Social at the Radisson.

Suggestions for Gifts:

* Combs/hairbrushes
* Shaving supplies
* Soaps/shampoos
* shawls or warm socks
* towels

I thought I'd get a rest after the Christmas Bazaar but I'm glad to stuff more giving into my holiday season!

Quotation of the Month:  
This is the first year that I have honestly, truly, thought more about giving to others and helping those in need than worrying about presents for my family and it feels GREAT.  Very little stress or worry, just good feelings! -- an active member
Shelter/Soup Kitchen Address:
Sv. Stepono g. 35 (corner of Paneriu g. across from Lukoil)
Either go down Mindaugo towards the train station area and turn right on Paneriu (the shelter is on the left, on the corner, diagonal to the Lukoil (there is a courtyard to pull into and park); or from the train station, cross the station square and take the hill down on the right side, turn right and it's the first courtyard on the left.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Friday, 4 December 2009

Coffee Morning: IWAV Coffee Klatch

Today was IWAV traditional coffee morning which took place at my favorite venue – the Radisson Hotel. As always the atmosphere was warm, relaxed, cozy and elegant… Everybody talked about this year’s Christmas Charity Bazaar. IWAV raised an impressing amount of money for its beneficiaries and it was time to celebrate!

For those who have not yet been to a coffee morning, it is a nice monthly event for newcomers and members to come together. If you are new to IWAV you get a chance to introduce yourself, learn more about the association, chat and find out about IWAV events, plans, and of course to drink coffee with delicious cookies.

This morning was as always very enjoyable!


Help the Animals?

Dear Ladies,

Several weeks my eldest came to me and said, "Find me a shelter where I can volunteer!"  So I did.

I Googled around and found a wonderful website created by a local shelter, SOS Gyvunai.   The site is beautifully translated into English by a volunteer.  There one can find information about animals available for adoption.  But the best part is the blog, again in English, where one can get news about the shelter and the things they need (food, litter, blankets, medicine, etc.).

We asked if Iris could help out but she needs to be 16 years old to do so.  So Iris and I went out and bought food and blankets for the animals since they were needing clean ones after an outbreak of infectious disease.

Finally, a few weeks ago, after many months of dog-or-cat and where-will-we-keep-him-or-her-while-we're-gone hand-wringing, I decided to adopt a cat for Iris from a local shelter.    We ended up at Lese on Filaretu g. in Uzupis.  We showed up without calling first, so there was no one there -- except the cats sitting on the window ledge.  My eyes fixed immediately on a calico with yellow eyes.  I went home, looked her up on the website and emailed to reserve her.  They responded immediately and a few days later we brought Nika home.  Nika has been re-christened Jellybean (despite my subtle hints that a Lithuanian name might  be more special).  Jellybean is a beautiful, sweet, wonderful little girl cat whom we all love sooo much.

Nika was offered to us neutered and vaccinated at no charge.   I made a 100 lita donation and plan to offer more, in kind, throughout the year.

This morning at our IWAV Coffee Morning, Shailja, one of our members, kindly referred me to a sort of charity clearinghouse website -- the first of its kind in Lithuania, in English.  Aukok has all the information anyone needs to give to these shelters (addresses and lists of items needed).  I'm very excited about this website as it shows exactly what each charity organization (not just animals) needs.

I have had contact with both SOS Gyvunai and Lese and each has one or two (or more) volunteers speaking English or Russian, as well as Lithuanian, of course.  All are young and very kind.  I even got the most kind-hearted email from a volunteer whose sister had cared for Jellybean in her home when she was found, injured, and there was no place for her in the shelter;  she was quite concerned for little Nika's well-being and adjustment in her new home.

Happy Giving Season!
IWAV Charity Coordinator