History of the Society
2004 – 2010
The Orlando Russian Culture Society was founded in September 2004 by Jef Gray. He discovered there was no central place or established organization in Orlando that was simply dedicated to the idea of meeting Russian speakers. Jef took on the role of organizer and began publishing meetings and events through a site called “meetup.com”. Within a few months the group began to grow and attract new members. Later the Society established it’s own web address at OrlandoRussians.com and grew to over 300+ families, making it one of the top 10 Russian meetup group’s in the world.
The core purpose of the Society is simply this; offer a place for people to meet fellow Russian speakers and help others interested in learning the Russian language. This society of friends and families meets monthly at various locations and events throughout Central Florida.
As the community continued to grow a larger organization was needed to facilitate the formal needs of all Russian speakers. In 2010 the Russian-American Community Center of Florida (RACCF) was founded by Jef Gray, Mikhail Farfel, Tamara Knight, Natalya Illarionova, Jenya Kapul, and Ella Jenkins. Farfel served as the first volunteer, encouraging others to take part in the various cultural projects and events that were to be held by the center. Gray was elected as President, Jenkins as Vice President, Illarionova as Board Secretary, Kapul as Treasurer, and Knight as Director of Education.
The board of directors worked to connect with other communities and was successful in creating a statewide network of Russian speakers including Sarasota, Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, St Petersburg, Clearwater and Naples. The statewide connection of Russian speakers enjoy mutual benefit from collective ideas, resources and volunteers. RACCF was awarded non profit status as a 501(c) 3 public charity in 2011. Since that time it has participated in state, national and international activities, including collaborative work work with the Russian Consulate, Russian Embassy, Ukrainian Embassy, US State Department and the International Peace and Film Festival.
The headquarters is located in Winter Park, Florida. For official RACCF info, please visit their website at Russian-American Center.org.