It’s been a fun week of meeting friends from the Ukraine Relief Initiative in Warren, PA. We met Piper at our campground. And we caught up with our dear friend and colleague, Jim Fehlman. So good to share experiences that deepen friendships! Great evening all the way around.

Jim Fehlman and Cindy.

Cindy, Piper VanOrd, and Dana.

The amazing Piper VanOrd went twice to Poland to help with the initiative. And she is still helping from PA. Piper with Michal from KDU helped a refugee center housing 80 women, children, and elder Ukrainians. They delivered food and supplies and installed a water purification system in the center’s kitchen.

Dana and I also met Jennifer Bliss. She is a super-volunteer for URI and her community. She organizes fundraisers, collects our pictures and videos for presentations, and she’s a master communicator for all the organizations she works with. Basically, she does it all! It was great to meet such an incredible woman that gives so much of herself to help others.

Cindy and Jennifer Bliss. Emily Onuffer, Dana, and Cindy.

And we met with our good friend Emily Onuffer, the Executive Director of Majengo Children’s Home in Tanzania, Africa. This charity provides food, clothing, and education to vulnerable children in Tanzania. Emily’s son, Nathan, is in Poland now. It was great fun to catch up with all of these fantastic people. Their continuous service to helping people around the world speaks to me, and I feel so fortunate to be associated with them.

Even though Piper and Jennifer are in PA, they are still helping our displaced Ukrainian friends. They have been working with a woman named Oksana. Here’s her story that Piper captures so eloquently:

Our good friend in Poland, Michał Piasecki, and Warren native Nathan Onuffer took another round of urgently needed supplies into Ukraine yesterday. They delivered them to the Nest, where Megan Ullrich, Phoenix, and I visited two weeks ago, and to another rural refugee center a couple hours east of that location.

The woman that runs the new center they delivered supplies to, Oksana, is a traumatologist from Luhansk. She escaped the war twice. First, in 2014, together with her family and parents, when she moved to Bucha and was offered a job at a prestigious clinic.  

They lived well until 2022. In March, during the first phase of the invasion, her husband and children managed to escape and find a place in Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine, at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. Oksana’s parents were not as lucky. They both suffered from Russian shells.

Oksana managed to save her father – performing the surgery herself. Her mother did not survive.  

Since then, Oksana and her team of 8 volunteers have been working non-stop to evacuate disabled and elderly people from hard-hit areas of Donbas and Luhansk.

This grassroots initiative, now being registered as a foundation, provides end-to-end care and support to those unable to care for themselves: medical care, rehabilitation, permanent accommodation, personal equipment (e.g., wheelchairs), and aftercare.  

The first group of 51 people was transported to Ivano-Frankivsk by Medicines Sans Frontiers train under Oksana’s protection. Today, the number of patients has grown to 400.

Through family and friends’ donations, along with ours, we were able to deliver a washing machine, two wheelchairs, dozens of boxes of adult diapers, cleaning supplies, and food.

But there is still a very real need. Wheelchairs and adult diapers are the most urgently needed supplies. Wheelchairs cost roughly $180 US dollars each, and we are hoping to purchase 50 of them over the next four weeks. Adult diapers cost roughly $20 US dollars for a pack of 30, and we are hoping to purchase 100 packs. All prices include shipping to Michal in Poland, who will then deliver them to the center in Ukraine. 

Please, if you can help, no donation is too small. I understand many have given already, some more than once. I am so grateful for each of you. If you cannot swing it, a share may reach someone that can. 

Appreciate you all. – Piper VanOrd

Unloading wheelchairs and supplies.

Oksana, a traumatologist from Luhansk.

The kindhearted people that continue to be heroic are the only bright spot of this unjust war. Thank you so much for donating. Not only are your contributions going to the community center in Kraków, but also to refugee centers and Oksana’s medical foundation. If these stories speak to you, please consider another donation. Please share these stories with your family and friends. Together, we can do so much. Be positive and stay safe. #ukrainereliefinitiative #KDU #peaceforukraine

Freedom is possible!

Much love,
Cindy and Dana

P.S. The community center in Kraków opens today, June 5th. I’ll update you in the next email. We’re super excited about the services it will offer to our displaced Ukrainian friends. Thank you for making it possible!

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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