The war in Ukraine is a horrendous, human tragedy. More than 2 million women and children have fled Ukraine to seek help and rescue in Poland. Because the Polish Government has neither the financial resources nor the infrastructure to cope with this huge wave of people, they have asked all their citizens to open their doors and hearts to help the refugees.

Within hours of this impassioned request, in the small town of Wolsztyn, Poland, Howard Jones and his wife, Alex, asked, themselves, “What can we do to help?” You may not know them by name, but if you are a steam locomotive fan, you have probably heard of their charitable organization, “The Wolsztyn Experience.” It is the organization in Poland that enables British and American railfans (and others) to come to Wolsztyn for a one-week, 300-mile, course in driving and firing high-speed, steam-passenger locomotives.

Their goal is ambitious. Howard and Alex want to help, not just one or two families, but dozens of mothers and their children. To do this they needed funding. Howard immediately reached out to several of his Wolsztyn Experience friends who he knew he could count on for financial donations. With this initial “seed” money for food, clothing, medicine and a lease on a vacant house, Alex contacted the Polish relief effort and told them they could accept four families. The first family arrived two days later, a young mother with a five-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy. The mom had only one small suitcase and each child had a cuddle-toy. The second family of five arrived in Wolsztyn with just the clothes on their backs!

THE EFFORT EXPANDS.  To support more families, they needed additional funding. They knew that their past clients, many of whom come back to Wolsztyn year-after-year for additional steam training, had formed warm bonds and close friendships with the railroad personnel as well as the people they met in the hotels, restaurants and shops. They were confident that these “student-engineers” would be the ones most eager to help. In addition to people in Great Britain, Howard reached-out to three close friends, Stan Ames in Massachusetts, Carl Comeau in New Jersey and Carl Franz, the U.S. Representative for the Wolsztyn Experience, in Maryland. Each has contacts with past patrons of the Wolsztyn Experience as well as contacts in the railfan and model railroad communities. These three were raising funds, working separately, but on parallel paths. Then, Stan reached out to the National Model Railroad Society. Their “Hub Division” was willing to help by being the collection point for all U.S. donated funds. And very importantly, it is an established 501(c)(3) organization. Thus, it made sense to combine their collective efforts and funnel all contributions through the NMRA. All donations qualify as charitable donations from an IRS standpoint.

This small, initial effort is expanding in scope with many people and several organizations getting involved. In a little over two weeks, we have raised nearly $30,000.00 and are currently supporting eight families; about 30 women and children. Even with this level of support there are many more families in need.  Our Goal is to reach $100,000.00 to support 60 to 75 Ukrainian refugees for a period of up to six months. If we can raise additional funds, we will be able to help even more refugees. It is important for you to know that
 100% of the funds you donate go directly to this relief effort. There are no administrative expenses or overhead.

The Wolsztyn Experience Ukraine Support Fund has been created to provide funding for housing, food, medical care, clothing and educational needs to mothers and children who have fled Ukraine. They are accepting funds from several U.S. and British sources. We are asking people in the U.S. and Canada to send their donations to: “The HUB Division Inc.”  They will forward your funds to the “Wolsztyn Experience Ukraine Support Fund” in Poland.

Please make your check, money order, bill pay or other type of funding document payable to: “The HUB Division Inc.” It is important that you reference the Ukraine Support Fund in the memo line on your check to ensure that your contribution is credited to the correct account. Currently, the system is not capable of accepting credit cards. If the use of a credit card is your only option, contact Carl Franz and he will make a special arrangement for you. Please include your name, email address and postal address so that we can send you a letter that confirms that your donation qualifies as a charitable donation. It will also enable us to send you periodic news updates from the Wolsztyn Experience Ukraine Support Fund.

Please Mail your checks to:
The HUB Division, Inc.
Ukraine Support Fund
PO Box 672
Hollis, NH 03049-0672

This U.S. fund raising effort is supported by:
a) The USA Wolsztyn Experience team
b) The National Model Railroad Association
c) The Hobby Manufacturers' Association (HMA)  
d) The National Retail Hobby Stores Association (NRHSA)
e)  And many of your fellow railfan and model railroad enthusiasts 

Thank you very much for considering our request. If you have friends or associates who may want to contribute, please pass along this information to them.    

If you have questions, please contact:

  • Stan Ames Jr. at 610-803-7626 or email Stan at stanamesjr@gmail.com
  • Carl Franz at 240-720-8686 or email Carl at cmfrr@aol.com

We greatly appreciate your consideration of supporting this worthy cause.
If the idea of running high-speed steam locomotives in Poland is of interest to you, please contact Carl Franz for more information.

Stan Ames Jr.
Carl Comeau
Carl Franz, U.S. Representative for the Wolsztyn Experience

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