This time it will not be a regular weekly update. I want to write about the volunteers that are helping displaced Ukrainian families. Because of you and your generous donations, we are helping hundreds of Ukrainians. We are helping at the community center, psychotherapy center in Kraków, Poland, and in Ukraine, the Nest refugee center, Oksana’s Medical Center, and the front line. Ukraine Relief Initiative’s network of volunteers is growing. People are signing up to join the efforts in Poland and Ukraine and pitching in behind the scenes. This humanitarian need is bigger than all of us, and we can do so much together.

At Świetlica Dębniki Community Center, local people (their Angels) donate supplies every week. Angels are recognized on the Świetlica Dębniki Facebook page. Donations include food, clothes, shoes, hygiene products, diapers, toys, and household items. Last week they even received a delivery of crocheted and knitted sweaters and blankets from Australia!

Fundacja Let’s Help Together Foundation started a “Silent Hero” series on their Facebook page. These heroes have played a huge role in the support of Ukrainian families. Hotel owners, real estate agents, lawyers, doctors, psychologists, and translators have opened their hearts and resources to work together with the Foundation.

“Thanks to these heroes the Foundation and its name were created because everything starts with helping together. These are the people who gave us wings and courage to act.”
– Fundacja Let’s Help Together Foundation

We followed one URI volunteer’s activities and impact for five days in Kraków. And this is how many people one person touched:

Day 1:

  • Come to Kraków, Poland, to Świetlica Dębniki, the Community Center led by our Foundation.
  • Say “Hi” to the local coordinators [9]
  • Meet the staff and the people we take care of (moms, small kids, teens…), listen to their stories, and share a smile… [30?]

Day 2:

  • Meet families with disabled children, and exercise with one of them and their physiotherapist. Talk to them, hug them. Smile. [5]
  • Visit the pantry, buy some necessary supplies, and put them on the shelves. [40?]
  • Go upstairs and play with the kiddos in the daycare. Laugh. [6]
  • Maybe decide to pay for the rehabilitation sessions of two disabled kids. [8]

Day 3:

  • Take part in a conversation club at the Center. Chat with a group of women who are members of the club, learning English. Sing “Happy Birthday” because it’s somebody’s birthday this day. Have a lot of crazy fun and laugh! [11]
  • Play with the kids at the daycare. They have already started to call you auntie/uncle. Do push-ups with them until you fall over. Lay on the ground. Laugh and smile! [6]
  • Help the truck or van driver unload a delivery of supplies for the pantry. It is hard work, but it’s rewarding to help many Ukrainian families. [200]

Day 4:

  • Spend the morning at the pantry, buying more necessary supplies. [30, at least!]
  • Meet the kiddos from the daycare again. [6]
  • Spend the rest of the day with the teens at “Flight” summer school. Talk to them and participate in activities together. Play in the open air with them. Tell them about your life. Eat ice-cream. Exchange points of view. And smile. [25]

Day 5:

  • Hug everyone goodbye.
  • Realize that this little boy from the daycare liked you so much because he misses his dad, who had to stay in Ukraine.
  • Realize that you made so many good friends here in just 5 days.
  • Start to think about what you will do when you come back home and how you will help from a distance. Maybe share your experiences and the help needed with your social circles. Maybe organize fundraisers or supplies donations? Maybe come back here once again in the future? There are many possibilities.

But one thing is for sure. You don’t know it yet, but during these 5 days, you’ve changed 336* lives! Directly and indirectly. Plus, a van driver who brought the supplies to our pantry was so happy to know you were there to help him unload the van!

*How do we know about the number of 336 people? We estimated, and sometimes we were able to count. By helping, for example, one disabled kid – you are helping a whole family!

Interactive sightseeing in Kraków for people with disabilities from Ukraine.

“To the most faithful friends and supporters of Ukraine Relief Initiative, thank you again and again for being in all of this with us, and trying to relief the crisis NOW.” – Świetlica Dębniki

This is just URI volunteers on the ground. There are volunteers in Kraków, Ukraine, the U.K, Australia, and the U.S. helping URI. And thousands of volunteers worldwide contribute funds and supplies and volunteer their time to the overall Ukrainian efforts.

I understand that Putin’s war affects us all one way or another…rising gasoline prices, the natural gas pipeline shut off in Europe, supply chain issues, grain and food shortages in Europe and Africa, and the uncertainty of a nuclear reactor disaster. But, to me, seeing the suffering of the Ukrainian people hurts the most. Their families have been injured or killed, and their homes destroyed. The lives they knew have been taken away from them, and they have to start over in another country. I can’t imagine experiencing this!

The work of URI, KDU, and Let’s Help Together Foundation has made their transition a little bit easier. And thanks to you, we are helping them find a new life. But the work continues. Please share their story with your friends and family, and if this speaks to your heart, consider making another donation if you have a few extra dollars. Thank you for your continued support. Be positive and stay safe.

Freedom is possible!

 

Much love,
Cindy and Dana

 

HOW TO MAKE FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS

These contributions are tax-deductible through HCC, our registered 501(c)(3) pass-through charity.

TO CONTRIBUTE BY CHECK:

Make your check payable to **Hispanic Community Council** (VERY IMPORTANT: not to Ukraine Relief Initiative). After you write your check to the Hispanic Community Council, please mail your check to:

Ukrainian Relief Initiative
c/o Gladys Archer
115 Main Ave
Warren, PA 16365

Please indicate “Ukrainian Relief Initiative” in the check memo and include a note with your contact info (address, phone, email). * See the footnote at the bottom for details on the Hispanic Community Council.

TO CONTRIBUTE ELECTRONICALLY BY PAYPAL:

Use this link: https://www.paypal.me/UkraineReliefInitiat. PayPal goes through Gladys Archer, serving as a liaison between the “Ukraine Relief Initiative” and “Hispanic Community Council,” our 501(c)3 pass-through organization.

In the memo, please include your name, address, phone #, and email so we can process your tax receipt.

CONTRIBUTE WITH NO TAX RECEIPT

Venmo directly to my personal account now, and I’ll ensure your funds get where they need to be. Make sure to indicate “Ukraine Relief Initiative” in the transfer. Please give me your contact info (phone, email, address). You can Venmo directly to me:

Click this link, https://account.venmo.com/u/Cynthia-Henson-12.

_______

* In light of the emergency needs in Poland/Ukraine and the prohibitively long lead time of months or even years to establish a new charity in the US, the Hispanic Community Council of Chautauqua County (HCC), a local 501(c)(3) charity in the Warren-Jamestown area, has generously stepped forward, slashed the red tape, and agreed to act as the passthrough charity to process payments and issue tax receipts for our Ukraine Relief Initiative, consistent with their broad charitable mandate relating to international community engagement.  HCC is not charging our initiative one single penny to act as our passthrough charity. 100% of your contributions sent to HCC and earmarked for the Ukrainian Relief Initiative will go directly towards our mission of relieving the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

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