North Carolina Rotarians welcome Ukrainian refugee families

The two women sit on a sofa with their children in their laps, and two dogs nearby
Natallia Melnik and Sviatlana Baranava and their children in Wilmington, North Carolina, USA.

By Dan Parks, Rotary Club of Wilmington East, North Carolina, USA

At the end of December, two Ukrainian families arrived in North Carolina, USA, after a whirlwind departure from Kyiv on Christmas day. They traveled through Warsaw and Chicago enroute to North Carolina. It’s been a busy three weeks as I’ve helped get the mothers signed up for Medicaid and their children enrolled in school or settled into daycare.

In late September, I was contacted by a representative from Welcome.US, a nonpartisan national initiative in the United States that was created to inspire, mobilize, and empower Americans from all corners of the country to support those seeking refuge here. The program started in September 2021 to assist those fleeing Afghanistan, but it has since expanded to embrace refugees from the war in Ukraine. Welcome.US is collaborating with Rotary to find hosts for refugee families.

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Books for Ukrainian children

Seated student holds science dictionary with other books in her lap
Sofiya Mulyk, a student at St. Nicholas Cathedral School, holds the book she received from the book fair donation.

By Laura Kann, governor of District 6420 (Illinois, USA)

Rotary’s response to the war in Ukraine has been simply incredible. Since the war began in February, Rotarians have opened their hearts to support those effected by the war in many different ways. Many members in my district have also been thinking, what can we do, right here, right now?

In August, I read a front-page article in the Chicago Tribune about Ukrainian refugee children in Chicago and the impact of the war on them and their families. It both broke my heart and spurred me to action, showing me how District 6420 could make a difference for at least some of these children.

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Texas Rotarians let kids be kids at camp for Ukrainian refugees

A child viewed from above assembles a wood block as part of a puzzle of several wood pieces
A child works on a craft project during the four-day recreational camp at Peaceable Kingdom in Killeen, Texas. Photo by Oliver Smith, Rotary Club of Northwest Austin.

By Shannon Coleman, governor of District 5870 Central Texas, USA

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the United Nations estimates that more than 14 million people are thought to have fled their homes. We began hearing about some of these families through our Ukrainian community here is Central and South-Central Texas. Children are entering our school systems with only the clothes on their backs. Many of the families have experienced violence, war, a shortage of food, water or shelter, personal injury, and disease.

Wanting to help, Rotarians in our district applied for a Disaster Response Grant from The Rotary Foundation to work with Peaceable Kingdom by Variety, a children’s retreat/camp in Killeen, for a three-night, four-day recreational experience over the Labor Day weekend. We imagined a space where the Ukrainian families could connect with their community, step away from the reminders of war, and take a much-needed deep breath. We wanted to give the children a place to explore, laugh and just be kids.

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Rotary clubs, Peace Corps volunteers support Ukrainian refugees

Supplies to refugees
A young volunteer (in white) helps distribute supplies to Ukrainian refugees in Moldova.

By Kim Dixon, Rotary Club of Raleigh Midtown, North Carolina, USA

When I served in the Peace Corps in the Republic of Georgia from 2014-2016, I engaged with the International Rotary Club of Tbilisi to support several service projects. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer – and now a Rotary member of the Rotary Club of Raleigh Midtown – I am proud to help integrate our shared service goals as the current President of Partnering for Peace, a nonprofit that promotes and supports the formal service partnership between Rotary International and US Peace Corps. 

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Helping Ukraine, one drill set at a time

Emory Morsberger, surgeon, with drill set
Emory Morsberger delivers the drill set to a surgical team at the hospital in Kiev in June.

By Emory Morsberger, Rotary Club of Gwinnett County, Georgia, USA

Isn’t it a privilege to be a Rotarian who can actually serve others and make a difference in someone else’s life – and even more so if that life is on the other side of the world? I think so! I hope to rally fellow Rotarians on 24 August to join our movement, Helping Ukraine.

In 1998, I took a trip to Ukraine and have been yearning to go back since. The people there are so excited about their freedom. When the war broke out in February, I felt a strong call to do something to help these free-spirited people. I had been hearing about the massive destruction and wanted to do more than make donations.

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