New Momentum for Save Ukraine Now

(left to right) Leo Bard, Executive VP, Save Ukraine Now; Dr. Gary Kellner, President, Save Ukraine Now; Pastor Alfred Cockfield, Jr., God’s Battalion of Prayer; Ali Cinar, Vice President, Turkish Heritage

Save Ukraine Now has passed the aspirational stage and is stepping up to become a major player in humanitarian relief for Ukraine. After kick-off events in Chicago and Detroit, Save Ukraine Now has filled multiple shipping containers with emergency supplies and sent them to the nation, thanks in part to the stellar work of the Detroit Ukrainian American Civic Committee. The Committee has filled two containers and has raised more than $165,000 for SUN.

SUN’s strategy of building these collaborative partnerships has mobilized thousands of people across the country.

Our New York City network is also making major strides thanks to the leadership of SUN Executive Vice President, Leo Bard, in building a strategic alliance with the Assembly of the World Diasporas. The Assembly has brought together a nationwide consortium to support charity events for Ukraine and to organize both ethnic communities and volunteer groups to collect clothes, blankets, medical equipment and supplies, hygiene items and food.

Our diverse support from faith-based organizations rose to the next level as Mr. Bard started to mobilize the Muslim community to help those displaced by the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Mr. Mohammad Razvi, Executive Director of the Council of Peoples Organization, offered the use of more than 3,000 square feet of storage space in a neighborhood community center to store donated goods.

The Assembly of the World Diasporas also helped to enlist Chicago-based Re-MED Services and secured their commitment to contribute medical equipment and products worth $100,000. Similarly, the New York-based company, Vitaly Homecare Supplies, will donate similar items worth $104,000.

Pastor Gilford Monrose of the Mount Zion Church of God and Pastor Alfred Cockfield, Jr. of God’s Battalion of Prayer Church will help with the logistics, organizing the collection of donations in their parishes and arranging a press conference for New York media at the Brooklyn Borough Hall. President Ravshan Tagiyev of the Assembly of Nationalities of Ukraine will provide critical sponsorship and organizational assistance and will help with coordination as well.

Other communities are stepping up independently. The Spencerport Ministerial Alliance in New York is sponsoring a city-wide initiative in September. Living Waters Community Church in Meadville, PA is launching a similar effort soon, and Church in the Son in Orlando, FL is already underway.

SUN’s strategy of building these collaborative partnerships has mobilized thousands of people across the country. While we can’t report on every new development in this blog entry, we look forward to acknowledging many of our key relationships in a new section of our website, currently under construction.

Thank you for all you do.

— Gary Kellner

The Threats of Freedom and Democracy

Abraham Lincoln described America’s democracy as a “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” In other words, the supreme power is vested in its citizens and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. The society and culture are characterized by a formal equality of rights and privileges.

Russia is not, and never has been, a democracy because its government never derived its authority from the people through free and fair elections. It is a government created by the old KGB crowd and the corrupt oligarchs who created the perfect kleptocracy.

Democracies are never perfect because they reflect the imperfect human beings who created them. But, for all their shortcomings, the US and Canada are vibrant democracies.

Russia is not, and never has been, a democracy because its government never derived its authority from the people through free and fair elections. It is a government created by the old KGB crowd and the corrupt oligarchs who created the perfect kleptocracy.

That’s why Vladimir Putin feels so threatened by the Maidan Revolution and its aftermath. The Maidan represents the second democratic uprising in a decade on Russia’s border. Its pointed rejoinder to former President Victor Yanukovich empowers “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Putin is not threatened by his enemies; they have either been cowed into submission, imprisoned or murdered. The Lilliputian opposition to his autocratic rule lacks sufficient money and “administrative resources” — a Russian euphemism for the ability to manipulate the outcome of an election.

Putin is threatened by a prosperous, stable and democratic state in Ukraine. Threatened because the hunger for freedom is contagious. Threatened because if Ukraine succeeds its Russian neighbors will discover the difference and want the same for themselves. And that’s why Putin’s disinformation machine works overtime to paint Ukrainians as fascists and raging anti-Semites. It’s powerful propaganda; it just isn’t true.

Ukraine has emerged as the most religiously diverse and tolerant of the former Soviet Republics, as the rabbis of Ukraine demonstrated in their response to the charges of Putin’s minions during the Maidan. We have also seen it powerfully illustrated through the “Spiritual Council” of Save Ukraine Now, encompassing Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims, that gives strategic direction and insight to SUN’s activities in the country. In April, they traveled together to the United States to help launch Ukraine Survival, our national campaign to alleviate the suffering of refugees in eastern Ukraine.

This new reality in Ukraine, paradoxically fostered by Putin’s belligerence, will not be reversed because the Ukrainians are determined to be free themselves. In so doing, they may become “the last, best hope” for the Russian people.

— Gary Kellner, President, Save Ukraine Now

The Multiplier

calculator

We can accomplish more working together than we ever can apart. That’s a basic insight of both the Jewish and Christian traditions. More than 3,000 years ago, King David wrote:

One can put a thousand to flight,  And two can put 10,000 to flight.

One of the Proverbs says: “Many hands make light work.”

A young rabbi from Galilee said something similar a thousand years later:

Whenever two or three of you agree, touching any one thing, it shall be done.

Working in conjunction with the Ukrainian-American Civic Committee and local faith communities, the campaign has packed more than 1,500 boxes with clothes and basic necessities of life …

Which is to say, cooperation is a multiplier. We are seeing this in cities across America in our Ukraine Survival Campaign, a national effort to fill shipping containers with the basic necessities of life needed by 1.4 million persons displaced by the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Detroit is setting the pace for the national campaign. Working in conjunction with the Ukrainian-American Civic Committee and local faith communities, the campaign has packed more than 1,500 boxes with clothes and basic necessities of life, as well as obtaining larger items such as hospital beds and wheelchairs. It’s enough to fill two containers.

Mayor James Fouts of Warren, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, announced a city-wide initiative by placing receptacles for collecting clothes on city property and including a flyer with residents’ water bills requesting donations. As a result, hundreds of people have connected to the project who have no Ukrainian roots or connection; they are simply people who care.

Epic Events, a local non-profit organization, sponsored a cruise for 20-somethings on the Detroit River on June 28th to raise awareness and funds for Save Ukraine Now.

The International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit has announced a “Children Helping Children” talent show on October 23rd at the Detroit Opera House to benefit Save Ukraine Now, a Syrian refugee relief organization and an African organization yet to be named.

Everyday, stories like these are pouring into our office from Chicago, Orlando, Baltimore and Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Hundreds of faith-based and civic organizations are joining the cause, and we are just starting.

Cooperation has become the multiplier. And we have not yet begun to see what can happen if our campaign goes viral, but we will.