Inspired by the experience of his own sister who was adopted from Ukraine, senior Dan Lynch started a fundraiser to support teens and young adults who have aged out of the orphanage system in the eastern European country.
With the help of his family, Dan sought out both personal and corporate donations. He received most of his support from fellow parishioners at St. Luke Orthodox Church in Palos Hills. He was able to raise more than $10,000.
In late November of 2015 he traveled with his dad and sister to Ukraine to visit Last Bell Ministries, which cares for teens who have “graduated” from the orphanage. Once teens age out of the government system, they have few opportunities for housing, education, or employment. The charity provides housing, job training, mentoring, and general support.
With the money collected, he purchased toiletries, food, bibles, and even had enough for some Christmas presents for the residents. He and his family met with the young people living there and learned about their lives. “They instill God there, and there’s a real sense of life,” Dan said of the ministry.
Dan found the experience life changing. “The people there have been orphaned and some have deformities,” Dan said. “They’ve had every roadblock put in front of them, but they are happy and optimistic.”
Dan’s sister, Victoria, was adopted by the Lynch family in 2014 at the age of 16. She is enrolled in Sandburg High School’s English Language Learners program. Dan is considering Indiana University or the University of Illinois for college, where he plans to major in accounting. He also plans to continue his fundraising efforts for orphans in Ukraine, and says his younger brother will soon take the reins while Dan is in college.
His message for everyone, “No matter where you are, through God you can do whatever you want to do.”
In the photo, Dan and his sister stand near a statue of the late Pope John Paul II in the Square of Zhytomyr in Ukraine.