They served – and sold out – 700 meals in less than two hours this summer, and funds raised by the Comox Valley Ukrainian Cultural Society take-out dinner is directly impacting those new to the community.
In June, the CVUCS raised more than $14,000 through the fundraiser to assist Ukrainian families who have located to the Valley to escape the Russian invasion of their homeland.
“People waited in line and those who couldn’t get a dinner donated money even if they didn’t end up getting food,” explains Eugene Hrushowy, CVUCS member. “Donations keep coming in – the community has just been super.”
He notes while donations are making a significant impact on the lives of those who now call the Valley home, without government funding or support, it is difficult for those to get established.
“It’s really expensive to live in Canada,” he added.
The CVUCS understood some of the challenges that newcomers may face, such as learning English, but Hrushowy says it was similar to “building a ship as it was being sailed.”
With the help of Oksana Moisieieva – who fled Ukraine and arrived with her husband Eugen and two children to the Comox Valley in April – the organization has created a 20-page guide for Ukrainians arriving in Canada.
She is also assisting the organization to get a better understanding of what newcomers need, and how the CVUCS can help.
“She has been through it, and can relate; she can help us understand what we need to do,” notes Hrushowy. “Some of the money has gone to English language classes because they can’t work or go to school if they can’t speak the language – we did that almost right away.”
He adds funds have also helped newcomers get cell phones, internet plans, assistance with medical exams, access to a support group and welcome baskets. Local churches, service organizations, grocery stores and various civic governments have also greatly assisted the group.
Moisieieva has helped a group of 10 with English classes, however, there is no set schedule and the group is finding it difficult to find a permanent space. The CVUCS is seeking a space that could also be used as a cultural centre, a daycare, host support services or even assist with translation.