Many of you have asked how we could contribute to the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. To show our support for the people of Ukraine we are raising funds to help supply money, food, clothing, and basic items needed to help the innocent civilians who are suffering and those individuals and families who have lost their homes and jobs.
As many of you know Nataliya, our Director of Human Resources is originally from Ukraine. She moved here with her family in 2000 and received her degree from Westfield State College and we were fortunate to have her start working with us in 2004. She still has many family members that are living in Ukraine and struggling to maintain their homes and lives during this war. Her mother works at the Ukrainian Self Reliance of New England Federal Credit Union in Westfield, Massachusetts and they are accepting donations and can send money directly to those most in need in Ukraine. Please see how Nataliya’s family was initially impacted below…
February 24, 2022 is a day many of us Ukrainians will remember forever. Just like during September 11th, we all know exactly what we were doing and what we were feeling when the news of the bombings hit social media. My friends were posting that missiles struck near their homes, in the neighborhoods I grew up in and played in throughout my childhood. It was early morning in Ukraine but the middle of the night for us here. We were glued to the phone all night, texting friends and family, waiting for their replies, praying that they were safe. My worry for my family and dear friends and the fear of losing everything we knew is unbearable. It has been difficult to breathe.
My aunt texted saying they gathered essentials, grabbed their cat, and started driving to the other side of the city to be with our other relatives. They slept in shifts that day, fully dressed and ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. My aunt told me that she remembers listening to every sound and being unable to sleep.
The next day they attempted to evacuate and leave the city. They traveled almost all day and made it to my grandmother’s house in the country, three hours west of Kyiv. This little village survived WWII and now my family was again asking for its protections. Three families were cramped into a small house for over 90 days, but at least they didn’t have to sleep in the basement in fear of bombings.
Their lives were turned upside down. Days before the war, they lived normal lives, celebrating my Grandmas 87th birthday, playing with their children, going to work. Before the war my 20 year old cousin had a thyroid operation to remove cancerous lymph nodes. Now he needed radiation treatment to keep it in check. His doctor had fled the city and Ukrainian hospitals had suspending such treatments due to the war. In fact, no hospital in Ukraine was doing radiation treatments. My cousin had to flee Ukraine to find this life saving treatment in Poland.
Very few of my relatives now have adequate incomes since the war has disrupted their workplaces. One aunt teaches at a school that has been closed for over 90 days. Another aunt helps people obtain critical subsidies for utility services, but the office still is closed. My uncle works in home improvement, but there is no demand for that work until the war ends and the difficult task of rebuilding the country begins. The costs for daily survival items have skyrocketed while the country’s infrastructure has been severely compromised.
I am moved by the concern and generosity of my colleagues at HMR and I thank Trish for giving me the opportunity to share my family’s story with you.
Much warmth and gratitude,
Scan the QR Code below to donate or use the Venmo account: @Patrice-Leonard