A community that is an ocean away from war is pulling together to send necessary medical aid to Ukraine. The Ukrainian community in Rochester has been working countless hours a week to get donations over to the war-stricken country. RocMaidan was established in the city in 2014, after the traumatic events of Euromaidan. Their goal is to get Western Medicine, such as military-grade tourniquets and blood clotting gauze over to the victims of war in Ukraine.
“RocMaidan is centered around Immigrants and first-generation immigrants- which is me. The majority of our families are in Ukraine,” said the head of I.T. at RocMaidan, Dennis Pavlyuk.
Volunteers have been working tirelessly to keep in contact with organizations overseas for donations and supplies. Pavlyuk’s father, Volodymyr Pavlyuk is the founder and coordinator of RocMaidan. He met with Monroe County Executive, Adam Bello, to discuss the medical supplies Ukraine needed most. After the battle at Kyviv ambulances were essential, so they were trying to chip in and raise money to donate ambulances from Italy to Ukraine.
“That’s when the idea came to mind, like why can’t we just ask for them here? My dad’s philosophy is it never hurts to ask,” said Pavlyuk. “He just asked if they could get us ambulances and you know, [Adam Bello] asked his little intern can we get these guys ambulances? Two or three days, and we got them. They were towards the end of their life, but it’s a big spreader van and it will work great for the front lines.”
The Rochester area has strong connections to Ukraine. Irondequoit, New York is the sister city of Poltava, Ukraine, and Nazareth University has a partnership program with the National University of Ostroh Academy in Ostroh, Ukraine. So when the country was invaded, local businesses did what they could to help.
“In the beginning, we didn’t have a warehouse. Xerox donated a warehouse for us to use in the next six months in Xerox Park, Webster to hold all of the humanitarian aid that we’ve collected. Different communities are helping with the connections that they have,” said Pavlyuk.
On the first day after the invasion, the Ukrainian Cultural Center held a meeting. The media was not allowed to attend, but the room was full of different people representing different communities.
“We had people from Buffalo and from different faith communities, which is very extremely rare, come in and sit in at this meeting. We’ve had this kind of split in the faith community here. We come from the Orthodox, we had the renaissance 250 years after the west did. We’ve never experienced that cultural diffusion there and I think that was really amazing the way that came together,” said Pavlyuk.
Monroe County is the third county for most Refugee and Immigrant Visa Holders Resettled in New York State. The idea of misplaced Ukrainians hits close to home for many people in the area. However, it may be some time until refugees make it here.
“Sometimes the refugee chain takes a while or function before we see arrivals. At least at this point we have had a couple of emails, but we have not yet dealt with any [Ukrainian] arrivals,” said Executive Director of Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services Mike Coniff.
The Ukrainian Cultural Center offers ways to donate and help Ukraine for anyone willing.