Tulsans honor Orphan’s Tree
Orphan’s Tree was founded in 2008 to address the changing needs of orphans in Russia.
Dr. Robert Donaldson, Dr. Eugenia Johnson, Jenya Polenskya Haps, vice president and co-founder of Orphan’s Tree, and Sue and Tom Bennett at the Orphan’s Tree benefit event.
The Tulsa home of Drs. Ben and Eugenia Johnson was the setting for a unique “mini concert and benefit” featuring a performance by the Hermitage Piano Trio and a presentation about the life-changing work being done by the Orphan’s Tree charitable organization in Russia. The evening also featured a tribute to the celebrated Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko by Dr. Robert Donaldson, retired president of the University of Tulsa. Yevtushenko, a distinguished professor at TU, died on April 1.
The Hermitage Trio, described as “an elite descendant from the great Russian musical tradition,” presented the special performance while in Tulsa to perform as a part of Chamber Music Tulsa’s 2017 season.
Orphan’s Tree was founded in 2008 to address the changing needs of orphans in Russia. Founders George Steiner and Jenya Polenskaya Haps, after working with orphans beginning in 1994, became increasingly concerned by the significant physical, emotional and spiritual needs of teenage orphans. The majority of Russian orphans — hundreds of thousands in number — age out of orphanages before they are prepared for adulthood. The goal is to end multigenerational cycles of isolation, poverty and orphanhood.
“Orphan’s Tree is dedicated to bringing the benefits of family and God’s hope to Russian orphans at a time they are most alone,” says event co-sponsors Sue and Tom Bennett, founders of Oklahoma National Bank and, most recently, First Oklahoma Bank. The Bennetts have made annual trips to Russia to work with orphans through Orphan’s Tree, along with others. Activities focus on meeting the physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs of the children. Programs emphasize personal relationships and mentoring, with most of the work done by professional Russian staff members and volunteers traveling from the United States.
Additional information about Orphan’s Tree is available at orphanstree.org.