Berthoud Organization Reaches Out To Help Orphans In Ukraine

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine -- Orphans must leave group homes when they reach age 16 in Ukraine. Ukraine Orphan Outreach has started a transitional home for orphans who age out of the country's system at 16.

Ukraine Orphan Outreach of Berthoud has established House of Grace in Kramatorsk to assist orphans who age out of Ukrainian group homes.

They receive a stipend from the government if they continue school and can live in unsupervised co-ed dormitories.

Many of these children eventually turn to prostitution or drugs because they have no guidance or support system, according to Kris and Clark Stoesz, founders of Ukraine Orphan Outreach.

The founders in Berthoud have put aside one vision for the organization in favor of another.

The outreach ministry brought 10-12 orphans to Colorado for several years in a row for a summer camp to give the children a different perspective on life and hope for the future.

A few of the orphans were also adopted by Colorado parents out of this ministry.

The organization has adapted its focus to center on Ukraine and include mission trips, camps, and support of a transitional home for young men.

"It's taken us awhile to find our right plan of action," Kris said.

Kris and Clark started looking for a house about a year ago to act as a transitional home for young adults who have aged out of orphanages, to teach them to become successful and productive members of society.

The organizers had been looking at the idea of building a home from the ground up until they partnered with Agape in Ukraine, a Christian ministry team that has a mission to "bring hope to orphans ("

Agape had a house that offered possibilities in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine.

Agape had identified a Ukrainian couple, who up until then had cared for orphans in a small apartment, and established them in the house with six boys.

UOO came on board to help fund the project.

They named the home House of Grace.

"The way to succeed in foreign missions is through strategic relationships," Clark said.

The couple agreed that without the system of Agape in Ukraine, it would have been very difficult to engineer this project.

"We've always had this dream to be tangible in the country," Kris said.

The couple says it is important to help the young men at the house succeed.

The six young men in the home are in technical school now after high school, and Clark has grand plans for them.

Kris and Clark don't want to enable the teens to accept handouts as their due, but the couple is excited to help them achieve their dreams.

If one of the boys wants to go into welding and open a metalworks shop, for example, Clark will be happy to supply funds through the orphan outreach organization.

The boys, whose last names were not made available, all wrote their stories, which were translated from Russian to English and sent to Kris and Clark with photos. 

Igor's father was imprisoned when the boy was age 5, and his mother and godfather later abandoned Igor and his sister.

Artem's father went to prison as well, and his mother died from a drug overdose. 

Vadim's mother drank heavily and he used to steal from drunk men who hung out at the house.

The children all eventually lived in orphanages and, when they aged out, started trade school, but also smoked, drank and used drugs.

When they each, through different paths, learned about God and heard about the transitional house, they found love, purpose and a family for the first time.

Clark and Kris also plan to continue summer camps in Ukraine.

The first camp was this past summer.

Ten members with UOO cooperated with a church in Ukraine to hold a camp in 2012 in Kramatorsk.

The 50 children who attended were orphans and from nearby neighborhoods.

The outreach organization will also assist a tour of "The Old Shoemaker," a musical by Ukrainian orphans, to perform at area churches and other venues in Colorado later this year.

For details about Ukrainian Orphan Outreach and to help support its efforts, visit

Source: Reporter Herald