Our History

.: 1999

January, 1999
OPEN again worked in conjunction with IRIS to place five business people from Georgia in central Iowa internship situations. George Asatiani was allied with Newton's DMACC campus and the Newton Chamber Alliance; Gia Shervashidze interned with The Newton Daily News and Newton Manufacturing Company; Grigol Matchardze worked with Kunkel Construction in Baxter; and Robert Revia was matched with Central States Coop in Kellogg and New Century Farm Service in Grinnell.

February, 1999
Vika, Lena and Oleksiy, the three students from Smila and Cherkassy schools studying in Jasper County, are doing quite well in their schoolwork. Lena Tereshchenko is now living with Galen and Janice Harbaugh of Mitchellville for the remainder of the school year. They are all mastering the English language very well and experiencing many facets of life in Central Iowa and beyond.
OPEN and the YMCA's Art Connection began a several-week preparation of artwork by Newton students to be exhibited in Smila next month. Marvin Campbell and Diane Fleischer of the Y organized the sessions, which involved participants between the ages of 5 and 14. Several types of media were used for the art, and the children enjoyed the project.

March, 1999
A final report was received on the $5,300 given to the Children's Home (Boys' Orphanage) in Smila in September 1998. The Director of the Home, Anna Serbina, was able to purchase a reconditioned tractor, a plow and some harrows for use on the property for harvesting crops and providing for greater self-sufficiency. Dave Gallaher, Principal at B. C. Berg Middle School in Newton, will stop at Smila on a visit to Ukraine to meet with teachers in Odessa. Marvin Campbell of the OPEN Board is planning another trip to Smila.
Intern assignments for IRIS were arranged by OPEN for three interns from Russia. Yelena Bogatyreva was placed with Holiday Inn Express and the Radisson Hotel in Newton; Andrey Anishchenko interned variously at DrugTown, Osco Drug and Wal-Mart in Newton as well as at Christian Photography in Des Moines; and Sergey Rodionov worked at Forbes Office Equipment in Newton.
The OPEN Board voted to provide $1,000 to purchase a FAX machine/photocopier for the Lyceum in Smila.

April, 1999
The Newton Rotary Club is initiating steps to sponsor the formation of a Rotary Club in Smila through the auspices of Rotary Clubs International, and will assist OPEN in providing some of the material necessary for its organization. Vika Balyuk and Oleksiy Kivenko appeared at Park Centre Retirement Community to do a What's New? segment about Smila and Cherkassy.
OPEN arranged home stays and job internships for four businessmen and women from Ukraine, all of the placements in Newton. Viktor Serbulov was assigned to the Caldwell and Tyler law firms; Maryna Gnyedash worked at Maytag Corporation; Oleg Myziuk was placed with Mercantile Bank; and Andriy Nesterenko with Fareway (a grocery retailer).

May, 1999
John McNeer of the OPEN Board took the three Ukrainian students to see Pella, a community of Dutch heritage in Marion County. The students will return to Ukraine on May 26. Three additional requests have been received for aid in Smila, and the Board voted to provide $2,000 to the Smila Regional Hospital; Board members can see firsthand of the need from the visit last fall. The grant money will be used for flannel material to produce much-needed diapers for infants.
The farewell potluck dinner for the students will be held at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Newton on May 16.

June, 1999
OPEN launches OPEN Cares III, a project designed to collect good used winter clothing for adults and small children, which will be delivered in time for cold weather through the auspices of the U. S. State Department via a 20- or 40-foot container. Yuriy Malovichko will work with Galina Kravchenko and the Smila Regional Department of Social Security to determine the neediest situations.
OPEN assisted IRIS with business intern placements in Newton for three Ukrainian businesspersons. These included Veronika Samoylenko at Maytag Dairy Farms and Mercantile Bank; Sergey Naumenko at F&M Bank and First Newton National Bank; and Valeriy Borovich at The Newton Daily News and Froelich Communications.

July, 1999
OPEN participates with IRIS in the Presidential Management Training Institute, a business exchange program initiated by Russian President Boris Yeltsin. OPEN also now has a connection to a server in Smila; the owner allows the sister city organization to utilize it at no cost, and he will deliver any messages OPEN sends. OPEN Cares III continues to progress, with first deliveries of clothing items made on July 4 following Newton's annual Independence Day Parade.
Business internships for IRIS were made to accommodate two Russian businesspeople. Tatiana Korotkova was located at McKlveen Lumber in Prairie City and Farver TruValue Hardware in Newton. Sergey Shponka was employed at Stage, a clothing business at the Newton Mall.

August, 1999
OPEN is quickly moving toward its goal of filling a 40-foot container with sweaters and coats and clothing for infants and toddlers for Smila Region. Interested individuals from several area churches and organizations have participated in sorting on a weekly basis and packing the clothing for shipment. Three new students, scheduled to arrive late in the month, were delayed on technicalities at the U. S. embassy in Kiev. Maury Phillips, John McNeer, Marvin Campbell, Barry Hurto, and Vladimir and Irina Bassis celebrated Ukrainian Independence Day at a reception sponsored by the Ukrainian Consulate in Chicago on August 23-24.

September, 1999
Maryna Balyuk, Maryna Masurenko and Leonid Romanenko arrived in Chicago on September 3 to spend the school year in Jasper County. They will be staying with Pat and Deb Griffin of Newton; Don and Dorothy Faidley of Colfax; and Duane and Marie Quanbeck of Newton, respectively. A brief meeting was held the host families at OPEN Chairman Jane Ann Cotton's home the night of arrival. Maryna Balyuk and Leonid will attend Newton Senior High School; and Maryna Masurenko will attend PCM High School in Monroe. Pictures of these students can be found on the Student page. Quizzes have been initiated in local newspapers in both Newton and Smila.

October, 1999
OPEN responds to a devastating earthquake in Taiwan by sending financial aid to Wu Chi, Newton's sister city on Taiwan. Paul Bell (an OPEN Board member and State Representative from Newton) and Dennis Black (an Iowa State Senator returned to Iowa early while on an official visit to the island because of this unforeseen emergency situation.
IRIS sponsors guests from Armenia, who arrive in central Iowa on October 7, with home stays arranged by the OPEN Board. The nine men and one woman include Vahan Arakelyn and Samvel Hubanyan (hosted by Fritz and Carol Kramer), Hrachya Torosyan and Artsrun Ghazaryan (hosted by Dave and Bonnie Pitz), Yurik Sargsyan and Artur Grigoryan (hosted by Bob and Mary Ellen Paulson), Asatur Harutyunyan and (Ms.) Knarik Alexanyan (hosted by Tori Reynolds) and Sevyan Derdzyan and Gagik Margaryan (hosted at IRIS Headquarters outside of Kellogg). This group will not participate in the business-mentoring program.
Three Russian interns from the President's PMTI program arrive in Newton, to stay until December 10. They include Andrey Azarov (who will work at Circle B Cashway and Farm & Home), Yuriy Oparine (placed at Hy-Vee West) and Dr. Dmitriy Doupliakov (interning at Newton Clinic and Skiff Medical Center).
The container of quality used winter clothing comprising the efforts of OPEN Cares III is on its way to Smila, Ukraine. Contents of the boxes were inspected in Newton on October 13; the container arrived on October 15; the container was packed by Board members on the 16th, and the container was picked up for delivery to the east coast on the 17th.

November, 1999
Marvin Campbell and John McNeer travel to Ukraine as part of the international team of poll watchers monitoring the national Presidential elections. They will be based in Cherkasy and Smila Region and will be assisted by translators Ksenia Yarmish and Svetlana Shulga of Smila. McNeer also delivers miscellaneous items to Smila's new Rotary Club, which is being sponsored by the Newton Rotary Club.
Russian interns arrive on November 4 to participate in IRIS's business mentoring program. Host families are provided by OPEN. The visitors in Newton are Grigoriy Dylda, Marina Chaptala (working at Mattingly's Music and Book Store and the Newton Polytechnic Campus) and Maxim Fedorov (mentoring with Wolfe Communications Group).
OPEN Board member Dan Ehl accepts a new position as editor in chief of the newspaper in Centerville, Iowa and resigns from the Board.
Plans are put into motion to develop a Junior Duck Stamp Program open to participation by youth of Iowa and Cherkasy Oblast. This innovative joint venture was initiated by OPEN Board member Marvin Campbell and Viktor Sobchenko, Cultural Director for Cherkasy Oblast.

December, 1999
Consul General Boris Bazylevskiy and Consul Lyudmilla Protasova of Chicago arrive in Newton to participate in OPEN's annual meeting on December 5, which is held at the Congregation United Church of Christ in Newton. OPEN's exchange students from Smila, Marina Balyuk and Marina Mazurenko, vocalize their impressions of life in Jasper County to date.
The container of winter clothing arrives in Smila in late December, with plans to monitor the distribution of the items through the Smila Regional Department of Social Security under the direction of Oleg Novikov and other local authorities. Although Smila Region has already experienced severe winter weather, the clothing was gratefully received and will be distributed prior to the New Year. More than 13, 000 items of apparel were included in the shipment. The recipients will include the elderly, destitute, orphans, etc.
OPEN will be represented by various sister city memorabilia in a Millennium time capsule to be buried in Newton on public property and opened by citizens fifty years from now.