Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sing Along with Jerry Jumba

For six weeks, Jerry Jumba will be conducting a sing along on Thursday evenings at 6:30PM at the Cultural Center.  Come learn Rusyn songs you love but don't know the words to, in both Rusyn and English!

See what you're missing:

We hope to see you there next week!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cultural Center (Continued from May 2, 2010)

When our ancestors came to America, they had very little.  They labored ceaselessly so that their descendants would have a better life.   This center is a tribute to them and to their children and grandchildren who saw to it that there is a lasting memory of their sacrifice.

Our people work hard for their money and are very selective with their donations.  However, they are always generous when it comes to giving advice on how we should spend those funds. Naturally, there is much to be said for listening to those willing to become donors.  

We have decided, therefore, to take advantage of their spirit of generosity.  Both kinds.  We have learned to seek out our members whenever we need assistance.  This approach has paid off for us.  With relatively limited funding we were able to make the center functional in 2 years, operational in 3, and self-sustaining in 4.

How we did it

While we have hired some help, most of the work has been done by volunteers.

Due to the enormous challenge of making the center functional, it was necessary to create subcommittees and apportion the work as appropriate.

Stay tuned to this blog for the next exciting installment of  “How We Did What We Did.”

(Posted by Maryann Sivak

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


On Sunday, May 16th the cultural center was visited by a tour group from Warren, Ohio.  Our visitors were from St. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church.  Their original intention was to attend an ordination ceremony in Munhall.  The quick thinking president of the Youngstown-Warren-Sharon Chapter, Jim Basista,  realized this was a golden opportunity to introduce the parishioners to Rusyn culture.

He cleverly diverted the bus to our center, where we conveniently had nut and pumpkin rolls waiting.   Perhaps because they were hungry after their long ride, they agreed to hear a spirited, albeit, short lecture on the virtues of  being Rusyn.  Even though most were of other ethnicities, many patronized our gift shop so at least a tiny corner of their houses would become Rusyn. 

One of the ladies told us her family was from Naples.  We hopefully explained that with that famous mountain overlooking their town, it was geologically part of Ruthenia.   And what did she think inspired Respighi to compose The Pines of Rome?   She may not have bought it, but she did not deny it, either.  Another convert!

(Posted by: Maryann Sivak,

Friday, May 14, 2010


Five-week Rusyn Sing Along with Jerry Jumba.   Thursday sessions starting  May 20, 2010

Please join us for this 5-week session starting on Thursday, May 2010 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at our Cultural Center at 915 Dickson Street in Munhall.  The fee is only $5.00/session.  Song sheets will be provided.

Learn to sing the Rusyn songs that our ancestors loved so much.  Most of these songs are very colorful and humorous. This kind of creative expression was a means of relieving stress and forgetting the hardship in their lives.

This will be taught by the well-known  singer and musician Jerry Jumba.  A graduate of the Duquesne University Department of Music, Jerry spent most of his life collecting and translating Rusyn songs.  He has also painstakingly translated most of them into English. 

For further information please call 412-567-3077 or e-mail
Maryann Sivak at

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cultural Center

It was six years ago that the Carpatho-Rusyn Society (C-RS) purchased the former St. John’s Byzantine Catholic Cathedral to create a museum and educational center for the promotion of our culture.  It had been built in 1903 exclusively for Rusyn immigrants.  When our ancestors came to America, they had nothing.  They worked very hard so that their descendants would have a better life.  They also cared for the homeland they left behind.  That’s why, on July 23, 1918, Rusyn-American leaders met at our center.   There they recommended that Podkarpatska Rus join the newly established republic of Czechoslovakia.  This was so the people they had left behind would enjoy the freedom and autonomy promised by President Wilson in his famous 14 points of self- determination.

What was wrong and what we did
By the time the C-RS acquired the building, it had been vacant for 11 years and was in need of an extreme makeover.

Rotted gutters 
The roof leaked badly, and although the pigeons seemed to enjoy the easy access, it was hardly a fit habitat for humanity.   Old large rusty air conditioning units on the roof needed to be removed.  The gutters were rotted providing an inviting entrance for the pigeons.  The chimney was on the verge to collapse.  The connecting roof between our center and the next door neighbor’s house was a potential fire hazard.  The entire building was in dire need of a coat of paint.   Actually, it needed many coats of paint.

Interior before
Inside the building the mold was so bad that one could not stay there for any length of time.   The mold and mildew were painfully visible to the naked eye.  The paint was peeling off the interior walls, at least in those places where the walls still had plaster.  There were leaking pipes. After a major water break a few winters ago, our opportunistic mold came to more closely resemble a rain forest.  We hadn’t meant to go quite this green.

How we did it
  After the initial excitement of obtaining the building, the realization of the humongous amount of work required set in.  Where should we start?  Where would the funds come from?  So the first two years were spent discussing how to begin.
The first priority was to evict our feathered guests.   We blocked off their access points.  The shrubs, moss and debris from the roof were removed and holes patched. 
Gutters fixed and painted

We next removed the old air conditioning units. The  section of roof connected with the neighbor’s house was removed.   The gutters were fixed, the chimney repaired.
Inside, the damaged inner walls were replastered and painted.

The deteriorating canvas wall paintings were peeled away and stored for possible restoration.  The debris left by the previous tenants and damage caused by water leaks were removed.  The leaking pipes were repaired.   Additional photos will soon be posted on our facebook.

More of this story will be forthcoming in my next installment.