Since September 2000, Sister Cities International Baltimore-Odessa (under the direction of Dr. Paul Becker) and Harvest International (under the direction of Mrs. Lela Steel) have been working with this orphanage to establish an educational program and better standard of living for these children. The program is entitled Project Heritage House.
For the first time in a former Soviet Bloc country, the collaborative efforts of two international foundations, The Salvation Army and Harvest International, have signed a contract to work together with the Ukrainian Minister of Education. In September 2000, a joint venture was formed and a contract was signed between these organizations. The purpose of this venture is to supplement the educational program at the orphanage.
Project Heritage House's role is to supplement basic services and material needs that were originally meant to be provided by the city government. Because of Ukraine's current poor economical situation the city government currently cannot meet these needs. Project Heritage House provides assistance in the areas of children's education, material, and nutritional needs.
To retain focus and not lose sight of the original purposes and goals, the design of Project Heritage House is to primarily focus this first year on one classroom of orphans. The project will increase by one classroom of children every year. The following year the children one-year younger will begin to be sponsored and the original class will be retained. Renovations, teachers, supervisors and food will also increase every year. During the program's first year Project Heritage House is sponsoring a second grade class of twenty-one students, whose ages range from seven to eleven years old.
To supplement the second grade teacher and two full time supervisors provided by the state, Project Heritage House provides; a full time psychologist, two teachers (tutors), two supervisors and an administrator, all of whom have pedagogical degrees (i.e. educational specialists).
Twice daily the basic nutritional needs of the children are supplemented by snacks in the morning and mid-afternoon. Vitamins are also provided daily.
For the first time in fifty-one years, major renovations took place at the orphanage in the summer of 1999. Four bedrooms, a classroom, a playroom, and a multipurpose room have been remodeled.
When possible, Project Heritage House endeavors to help all of the 419 children in the orphanage. For example, with the partnership of Universal Aid for Children in Ukraine, $25,000 was invested into renovation of the entire building's bathrooms. Universal Aid for Children in Ukraine sponsored half the cost of this renovation and Harvest International sponsored the other half.
Heritage House is has purchased over 1,500 textbooks and library books for the orphans of The Odessa Boarding School Orphanage Number Four because of support from the United States Peace Corps small grants assistance program.