History of ARAA
In 1946, under the leadership of Prince Serge Belosselsky-Belozersky, the non-profit "Russian-American Union for Protection and Aid to Russians Outside of Russia, Inc." was formed in New York City. Its purpose was to unite all Russians living outside of Russia, to build cultural relations between the organization's members and the citizens of the United States, to provide mutual aid to each other, and to further the basic teachings of Christianity. In 1956 the name was changed to American-Russian Aid Association, Inc. Through the hard work of many volunteers and the generosity of Prince Belosselsky and his wife Princess Svetlana, the organization established churches, old age homes, Scout Camps, a Cultural Center in NYC, and assisted many displaced Russians to relocate to - and begin new lives in - the United States and other countries.
History of Otrada
In 1968, a group of Americans of Russian descent living in the New York City vicinity formed the non-profit "The Russian American Society Otrada, Inc." Its purpose was to establish a cultural and educational center to support charitable, educational, and athletic programs. In 1974, the name was changed to "Otrada, Inc - the Society of Russian Americans." Throughout the years, 'Otrada' has served as a major cultural center for Russian Americans in the NY tri-state area, hosting numerous functions, children's camps, and helping those in need. Also located on the grounds of 'Otrada' is the chapel "Icon of the Mother of God Otrada" (which stands for comfort and consolation). The Chapel serves as both a reminder of the religious heritage of the Russian American community and provides a place of worship on the 'Otrada' grounds.
The ARAA-Otrada Merger
In 1999, the respective members of ARAA and Otrada voted to merge their respective organizations and form one new entity - "American-Russian Aid Association, Otrada, Inc."