The Lithuanian Assistance Foundation and its president, Albinas Markevicius, are pleased to announce that nearly $7 million in funds will be distributed to Lithuanians in need through the California Community Foundation under an amicable agreement the Lithuanian Assistance Foundation reached with California regulators ending a burdensome eight-year-long inquiry.
This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200709005916/en/
Albinas Markevicius and his daughter, Zina Markevicius, during a 2013 ceremony receiving the Medal of Diplomacy from the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Business Wire)
The Lithuanian Assistance Foundation was co-founded by Mr. Markevicius in 1992 two years after Lithuania regained its independence from the former Soviet Union. Mr. Markevicius and his family fled Lithuania in 1944 during World War II after the Nazis and Soviets occupied his homeland, living as a teen in refugee camps before emigrating to Canada and, eventually, the United States.
Mr. Markevicius has been an active philanthropist and leader in the Lithuanian-American community for 60 years. In addition to the Foundation, he co-founded the California Lithuanian Credit Union in 1967 and established the real estate firm Roque & Mark Co. in 1965, both of which remain prominent members of the Santa Monica business community. Mr. Markevicius was also on the Santa Monica College General Advisory Board for 15 years. He is currently involved in charitable initiatives with Upward Bound House and a community outreach program to aid seniors during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over the past 28 years, the Foundation has funded medical procedures for disadvantaged Lithuanians, helped finance housing assistance for survivors of Siberian deportations and provided numerous scholarships for Lithuanian students among its many initiatives. The Foundation was one of the first charitable organizations to mobilize global support in the early 1990s to help Lithuania as the country faced financial hardships during its transition to democracy from nearly a half century of Communist rule. One notable project spearheaded by Mr. Markevicius through the Foundation was the rehabilitation of Zelva village, documented in a short film which can be seen on YouTube. In 2013, Mr. Markevicius received the Medal of Diplomacy from the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington, D.C. His daughter, Zina Markevicius, also has been active in Lithuanian charitable work as a board member including creating an initiative to send books and educational materials from the Santa Monica School District to students in Lithuanian villages.
Since 2012, the Foundation fully cooperated with the state hoping to amicably resolve the inquiry. Even though an Internal Revenue Service audit found that all filings were properly completed, it became apparent that extending the inquiry even further would be counterproductive to the foundation’s mission of helping Lithuanians. According to the agreement, both the foundation and the state mutually agreed to resolve the matter "to avoid the expense, uncertainty, and inconvenience of litigation or other administrative action." Nearly $7 million will be distributed through the California Community Foundation for the education of disadvantaged Lithuanian orphans and children in the Vilnius region as well as for charitable work in Zelva village, including "a trade school, teacher training or seminary, financial assistance for needy students with above average grades, and senior citizens."
The Foundation’s board, which in addition to Albinas Markevicius and Zina Markevicius also includes Arunas Sodonis and Joseph Praske, unanimously endorses the distribution of these funds to needy Lithuanians. They wish to thank those who supported the foundation’s work, and encourage continued support of Lithuanians in need through ongoing charitable endeavors.