Category Archives: U.S. support for Ukraine

SUN and U.S.-Ukraine Foundation Join Forces to Host Forum on Capitol Hill

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The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and Save Ukraine Now will co-host a Forum at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on September 25, 2015, on the crisis in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Ongoing Battle for Freedom: The Risk of Western Failure in Political, Economic and Humanitarian Assistance, will gather U.S. and Ukrainian leaders from government, religious and non-profit sectors to evaluate the impact of the current crisis in Ukraine and the needed responses. General (ret.) Wesley Clark, Chairman of the Board for Save Ukraine Now, will address the gathering as the keynote speaker. Other confirmed speakers will include Michael Saakashvilli, Ukraine’s Governor of Odessa, and Ukrainian Cabinet Ministers will participate as well.

The UN has reported that five million people, including 1.7 million children, need critical humanitarian assistance yet only 34 percent of the support has been pledged and funded by the international community.

The UN has reported that five million people, including 1.7 million children, need critical humanitarian assistance yet only 34 percent of the support has been pledged and funded by the international community. The Forum will let the people of the region know that the world has not forgotten them, and it will serve as a rallying point for action.

The Forum will start with addresses on the current situation in Ukraine, with attention to the political, economic and humanitarian dimensions of the crisis. The Forum will continue by discussing practical solutions to humanitarian and development issues, with working sessions designed to result in commitments to action.

The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and Save Ukraine Now, in cooperation with the Ukraine Embassy, have forged a broad coalition to support the event. The bipartisan House and Senate Ukraine Caucuses will sponsor the event, and attendees will include members of Congress, Ukraine cabinet members and other international leaders. The leaders of major religious confessions from Ukraine will also participate in a demonstration of the solidarity that has characterized their response to the crisis.

Most of the discussion in Washington has focused on the political and military aspects of the crisis, and the Forum is designed to provide a 360-degree focus to the crisis by covering all types of assistance and encouraging cooperation among various groups.

For more information about the event, please visit www.saveukrainenow.com/dc-forum-welcome.html.

Saving Ukraine One Container at a Time

This map dramatically outlines the areas of Ukraine that are vulnerable today
This map dramatically outlines the areas of Ukraine that are vulnerable today

Save Ukraine Now has sent multiple shipping containers as part of the Ukraine Survival campaign with emergency supplies for more than 1.4 million refugees throughout the nation.

The shipping containers [have each been] filled with hundreds of boxes of supplies from organizations in Detroit, Baltimore, Orlando, and Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Fifteen campaigns are also underway in cities of all sizes …

The shipping containers, with a volume of 8 ft. x 8 ft. x 40 ft., are each filled with hundreds of boxes of supplies from organizations in Detroit, Baltimore, Orlando, and Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Fifteen campaigns are also underway in cities of all sizes including Chicago; Warren, Michigan; Meadville, PA; Spencerport, NY and New York City.

Ed Michael, Senior Pastor of Eastern Assembly of God in Baltimore, said, “My congregation was deeply moved when Dr. Kellner showed us the video of the suffering people of eastern Ukraine, and when we realized more than a million people were affected, we knew we had to act. The Lord has blessed us with so many material comforts in the United States, and we felt compelled to share some of them with our brothers and sisters in that war-torn land.”

Dr. Gary Kellner, President of Save Ukraine Now, added, “Americans always respond generously once they realize the true extent of the need. It is amazing to see how quickly the local teams fill these shipping containers once their hearts are touched by the plight of the people displaced by the conflict in Ukraine.

“The burgeoning humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine has rapidly outstripped the resources of the Ukrainian government, international aid agencies and NGOs. More than two million men, women and children have been driven from their homes, often with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Unless NGOs and faith-based communities step up, people will get sick and die. Filling containers is not an option; it’s a necessity.”

According to UNOCHA (United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), it will take more than $330 million to feed the internal displaced persons. Of that, no more than 10 percent has been spent to date.

Save Ukraine Now has created a unique micro-distribution network of 12,000-to-15,000 local Ukrainian churches, synagogues and mosques to speed emergency supplies to remote villages in eastern Ukraine. The Office of the President in Ukraine expedites customs, provides transportation and guarantees security. SUN also works with larger relief organizations to fill gaps in service as these groups are stretched to the breaking point by the volume of the need.

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 Multiplier

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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.

The Power of One

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One man, one container. The result? Thousands of people will receive much better medical care.

Benny Shkop set the pace in our Chicago Save Ukraine Now banquet by committing to fill a shipping container with hospital beds, mattresses, wheelchairs and other medical supplies for Ukraine at a cost of $100,000.

Benny exemplifies the “Power of One,” the ability of one person to make a dramatic difference.

A dynamic and energetic young entrepreneur, he has built a global business by selling refurbished medical supplies to hospitals in developing countries. A few years ago, he learned that some of America’s best hospitals replace equipment every four years instead of the industry-standard ten or twelve. Benny founded ReMed to furnish this medical equipment to hospitals unable to afford newer systems.

Leo Bard, our Executive Vice-President, and a key member of our Chicago team, heard about Benny’s business and approached him about shipping medical supplies to Ukraine. Benny eagerly committed to filling a container for just $10,000—a fraction of the value. After the Save Ukraine Now banquet in Chicago, he dropped that number to $3,000.

There is it—the Power of One.

One man, one container. The result? Thousands of people will receive much better medical care.

A few days later, I spoke about Benny’s commitment at a church in Meadville, Pennsylvania. A young couple decided they would give $3,000. With a trembling hand, the husband handed the pastor a check at the end of the service. They had never done anything like that before.

And there it is again—the Power of One.

Stories like this are happening every week in Save Ukraine Now as individuals discover the Power of One.

Two women, Ulana Kushner and Vera Andruskiw, caught the vision for organizing a city-wide effort in Detroit. They built an elite steering committee of 40 people from 20 organizations and held a regional prayer breakfast for religious leaders, a premier event with General Wesley Clark at the renowned Detroit Economic Club, a fundraising banquet and a strategic briefing. More than 1,000 people attended.

And there it is one more time—the Power of One, or, in this case, two.

But the story does not end there. James Fouts, the mayor of the City of Warren, Michigan, home to a substantial Ukrainian-American community, attended the banquet and was duly impressed. He declared a Save Ukraine Now Initiative to fill shipping containers and even directed the city Water Department to include a promotional flyer in the residential bills.

And that illustrates an interesting corollary about the Power of One: it multiplies.

And as it does so, Americans will catch a vision of what they can collectively accomplish. The Talmud says, “He who saves a life, saves the world entire.” That’s the Power of One.

Hostages to the News Cycle

The American people are held hostage to the 24/7 news cycle.

Stories explode into our consciousness based on their intensity and the knack of our media to run with them over and over again in an endless loop. When ISIS first beheaded an American, the YouTube video transformed public opinion even after a profound weariness based on a decade of war.

For generations, news editors have told their reporters, “If it bleeds, it leads.” That still holds for television, social media, talk radio and the multitude of outlets in today’s media.

Slowly developing stories such as the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine get short shrift. A couple of deaths a day, a handful of refugees, do not get covered. Unfortunately, after several months, the situation becomes qualitatively different. Ten refugees is not a story, ten refugees a day since April 2014 is a catastrophe. But that story has yet to break through the “white noise” of the news cycle.

We have watched the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine morph into a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe. Over the last year, the number of displaced people has skyrocketed from a few thousand to more than 1.2 million. More than five million people have been affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine—1.7 million of them children. Villages have been leveled by barrages of Grad rockets and field artillery.

The people of Ukraine desperately need our help.

And those of us who understand the reality of this terrible conflict must find ways to break through the white noise to let the American people know. Because when they are awakened to injustice, the American people always take action. That is at the heart of the Ukraine Survival Campaign — a national campaign to fill shipping containers with clothes, personal hygiene items, medical supplies and other necessities of life.

In a few weeks, we will formally launch the campaign in Chicago and Detroit with a series of high-profile events. Our delegation, led by former NATO Commander, General (ret.) Wesley Clark, will include the leaders of Ukraine’s major faith communities who will participate in prayer breakfasts, press events and fundraising dinners.

By taking our case directly to the people in cities across America, we will arouse their compassion and break through the white noise. When that happens, thousands of people who might otherwise become grim statistics will have the opportunity for happy, healthy lives.

How to Save Ukraine Now

Yesterday, while walking through Midway Airport in Chicago, I received a phone call from Mark Carrara, pastor of the Highpoint Community Church in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Several weeks ago, Highpoint launched a campaign to fill a 40-foot container with clothes, blankets and personal hygiene items for the people displaced by the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Mark’s an interesting guy. Trained as an engineer, Mark holds an M.S. in aeronautical engineering and an MBA. He is wired to be strategic. Even though Mark feels deeply, he is not prone to work out of his emotions, and yet when Mark learned of the crisis in Ukraine, he was one of the first leaders to respond.

His church took a special offering to fill a truck with humanitarian goods, and when I told him about Ukraine Survival, SUN’s national campaign to ship emergency supplies to Ukraine, Mark decided to launch his own effort in Port Saint Lucie. He plans to recruit faith communities and civic organizations to the cause. So, I wasn’t surprised when Mark called. I was surprised by what he reported.

“I’m going to need a container right away,” Mark told me. “We have collected enough bags to fill a 60-foot unit and have just placed a storage pod on the church property.”

“We haven’t even taken this out to the community yet,” Mark reported.

Something similar happened in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where Living Waters Church has collected tens of thousands of dollars in medical supplies. A local congregation in Merritt Island, Florida, has amassed more bags of clothes than the number of people in their church. Some listeners to the church’s radio broadcast have driven up to two hours to join the cause.

Most people have never heard of small cities like Port Saint Lucie, Meadville and Merritt Island, but the people there have discovered how to save Ukraine — one person at a time.

When you see the statistics about the humanitarian crisis, it is tempting to throw up your hands in despair. More than a million people have been displaced by the conflict; 1.7 million children need physical or psychological care.

None of these three communities will save everyone threatened by hunger, sickness and disease, but each container will carry enough goods to give hundreds of people a chance for survival. If we combine their response with other churches, synagogues and civic organizations across the United States, we will save many more.

It Takes a Team

Leadership guru John Maxwell has famously said, “If you’re going to do a big job, you need a big team.”

The challenges presented by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine are staggering — more than 5 million people affected by the conflict, 1.1 million internally displaced persons, 1.7 million children need care and counseling.

Last week, I met with a top UN official in Ukraine. She spent the last 16 years on the ground in war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, the Central African Republic and Myanmar. She is smart, tough and hard to scare.

After the pleasantries were over, she looked at me and said, “We want to be your partners.” Of course, I asked why.

She said, “If you don’t work with us, people will die. It’s that simple.”

Sometimes team is the difference between life and death.

That’s what we have been doing the last few months, building a team big enough to take on the suffering of a nation. Next month, we launch a national campaign called Ukraine Survival to fill shipping containers with emergency supplies for people whose lives are hanging by a thread. Save Ukraine Now is approaching thousands of churches, synagogues and civic associations across the United States to fill shipping containers with emergency supplies and ship them to Ukraine.

Teams have been organized in Chicago and Detroit to mobilize city-wide efforts. Detroit is setting the standard for team building: more than 20 organizations in the Detroit Metro area have joined with us in this effort. In the last few weeks, churches in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana and Illinois have launched campaigns in their communities.

It’s still not enough.

We need you. The people of Ukraine need you.

Will you join a team of people from many different backgrounds and incredibly diverse gifts to help save a nation? Would you organize a campaign in your church or community to fill at least one container?

Over three or four weeks in April and May, you ask the members of your congregation or civic organization to fill at least one plastic bag with clothes, shoes and blankets and bring them to the church to be loaded onto a container we will send to you.

Time is running out for thousands of people in Ukraine. But with the efforts of a big team, we can make sure it doesn’t.

Time to Save a Nation

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about how we could meet the challenge of Ukraine’s skyrocketing humanitarian crisis — 1.5 million displaced persons, almost one million of whom are completely destitute. Our SUN team has been making steady progress toward our goal of filling 300 trucks with food, clothes, blankets and personal hygiene items. But with 10,000 to 20,000 new refugees every week, it will take 10 years to help everyone.

That won’t do. People are hungry now, cold now, sick now and dying now.

And then it hit me. Why not enlist thousands of civic organizations, churches, synagogues and schools in a national campaign to fill shipping containers with the items needed to save the victims of Putin’s aggression?

Sound impossible?

The “Greatest Generation” faced a much more daunting challenge in the days after the Second World War. When starvation threatened the lives of millions of Europeans in the wake of one of the worst winters in the last 100 years, the U.S. responded with the Marshall Plan—a project designed to save everyone and reconstruct Europe as well. A year later, when Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin blocked the highways and railroads into Berlin, the U.S. and our allies airlifted supplies to the beleaguered city for nearly a year. Air crews flew over 200,000 flights, providing up to 8,893 tons of supplies daily. Compassion and determination saved millions of people from starvation and dictatorship.

Whether responding to communist aggression in our parents’ generation or devastating tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes in our own, the American people have a better track record of responding to tragedy than anyone else.

Today, the people of Ukraine need friends, and they need them now.

Across America, in cities, small towns and suburbs, thanks to SUN, volunteers are now organizing their churches, synagogues, civic groups and schools to fill shipping containers with the clothing, blankets, medical supplies and personal hygiene items the people of eastern Ukraine need to survive.

All of us know people who will help … if we ask.

Friends, family, neighbors, co-workers will respond, if someone asks them to help.

If you will ask, Save Ukraine Now will provide everything needed for a successful campaign in your community, including promotional and informative videos, news releases, public service announcements, bulletin inserts, door hangers, and perhaps most important, staff support. The participating organization is only being asked to handle the freight, perhaps through a special offering or community fund drive.

The Greatest Generation saved millions from certain death. Now, it’s our turn.

Brochures about the container campaign are available for interested parties, and our national coordinator, David Brennan, may be reached at dbrennan@saveukrainenow.org.