If we need an example of how to recognize the people in our lives that we cherish, there is no better example than this token of profound appreciation for long-time Warman resident and volunteer, Brenda Stokalko.
Brenda Stokalko is retiring from 11 years of volunteer service from Sonia's School of Ukrainian Dance where she served six years as club president and relocated it to Warman.
She gave many people so many great memories and I wanted to thank her for that, on behalf of everyone that she has helped over the years." Amanda Kirkpatrick, owner of Relish Photography.
Amanda Kirkpatrick, owner of Relish Photography in Warman, met Brenda several years ago when she was doing a photo session for Sonia's School of Ukrainian Dance. Kirkpatrick says, "I continued to see her and her kids every year at photo day. She was very supportive of my business and in turn I started to support her business (Kalko's Hair Design).
"We got to know each other over the years and we really connected over our chaotic lives as business women and mothers!" says Kirkpatrick, "When I heard that her family was retiring from Ukrainian Dance this year, I knew that I had to do something special for her. She had been the president of Sonia's School of Ukrainian Dance the past couple of years and has done so much in terms of booking me, scheduling, and lining up volunteers for photo day and I wanted to do something to let her know how appreciated she was - not only by me but by the dance group, her kids, and everyone who benefited from her hard work."
Pictured above, left to right: Brenda, daughters Alexyn & Bianca, Sonia's Dance Logo, Sonia's Dance troupe perform
Sonia's School of Ukrainian Dance, a competitive Ukrainian Dance Club about to start its 37th year, is a registered non-profit group for ages three to 18 as well as an adult group. Sonia's will be starting its sixth year in Warman this fall.
Brenda has just finished her 11th year with the club and has served as the Bingo Coordinator, Costume Coordinator, Vice President, and President. "Along with that, when we moved the club from Saskatoon, I was on the team of veteran parents to help save the club from dissolving entirely. So we can add promotion and marketing to my list of duties as well," says Stokalko, "I have also lead the parade involvement, Telemiracle performances and fundraising, Ukrainian Day at the Blades, senior home performances, Summer Ukrainian Dance Camp, as well as the archives for all of the 36 years of pictures and memories in albums."
The move to Warman was extremely successful. "Before moving we faced closure and were left with less than 10 dancers and five families. In the first month of pre-registration we had 35 dancers sign up in Warman," explains Stokalko. "Sonia's Ukrainian Dance has grown from there up to 50 dancers, including adults, and we now have five instructors for the club. The adult group, now in its fifth year also started in the move to Warman, first as a recreational group and now has become competitive.
"Relish Photography has been so great for us as a club. I asked Amanda to do our club photos in our second year in Saskatoon and she has done an amazing job at capturing the Ukrainian culture and showcased the costumes in their beauty. When we made the move to Warman, she was more than willing to help with unique ideas for ad shots and promotion. She has been a key to our new 'brand' in the new location," Stokalko says.
"We were welcomed with open arms to Warman as the only cultural dance group and won the Community Group of the Year in 2014. We also work with assisting dancers who wish to go farther in their future with their culture and Ukrainian Dance. Since we have been in Warman, we now have had five dancers audition and been accepted in Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble, Saskatoon's own world traveled professional dance troupe."
Sonia's School of Ukrainian Dance is a family club, we have the best dance dads and moms! The instructors applaud our dancers for having the best attitude in class as a club, the dancers are complimented on their exceptional behaviour in public performances," comments Stokalko.
After considerable thought of how Brenda could be recognized for the achievements, Kirkpatrick decided to make up a photo collage for her, for which she went back into her archives and chose a photo of Brenda and/or her kids from every single year they were in dance and included, "Thanks for all the memories..."
Brenda Stokalko, you are an inspiration to everyone around you, a hero to your club, and a true cultural ambassador bringing vibrancy to the City of Warman! We all say, "Thanks for the memories!"
by: Discover Warman News Team
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