Updated March 17
Tens of thousands of Ukrainian immigrants call Sacramento County home, and many of them are still processing the shock they’ve felt at the Russian invasion into Ukraine that began early Thursday morning. U.S. President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Russia Thursday and the Ukrainian military has been called to mobilize.
Vlad Skots, the chairman of Ukrainian American House in Sacramento, said he’s keeping up “basically 24/7” with what has been happening in the country.
“People who live there, they never expected Putin totally lost his mind and start to attack capital city and big towns in Ukraine,” Skovs said. “People are still shocked. They want to wake up. They’re saying ‘It’s not real. It’s not true.’”
Ruslan Gurzhiy, editor-in-chief for Slavic Sacramento, a newspaper serving the local Slavic population, called Russia’s actions “escalation” following the initial annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“This is really, really getting big,” he said. “As I communicate to my friends and their relatives in Ukraine … they compare it actually to … the Second World War. They say ‘Nazi Germany started the war at night.’”
Ukrainian immigrants are part of a broader Slavic community in Sacramento. Gurzhiy estimates that the bigger community — “a lot from Ukraine, a lot from Russia, a lot from Belarus” — is above 70,000. Many of them, Gurzhiy’s family included, were religious refugees who arrived in the 1980s and 1990s after the Soviet Union’s fall.
He says that he’s heard from many in the broader Slavic community that they hope the conflict does not continue to escalate.
“We're calling Belarussians, Russians, Ukrainians … to unite for peace in Ukraine,” he said.
Members of the Slavic-speaking community in Sacramento and supporters gathered at the Capitol Thursday afternoon to protest the Russian government’s actions.
How you can help
If you’re hoping to get involved with groups providing aid to affected Ukrainians, here are some ways to do so:
The Ukrainian American Coordinating Council, based in San Francisco, is raising funds to pay for medical supplies to ship to Ukraine.
Revived Soldiers Ukraine raises money to pay for advanced rehabilitation for Ukrainian soldiers and medical aid for those in eastern Ukraine. You can donate to them here.
Hromada, a San Francisco-based organization, runs the Anhelyk Foundation, which collects money to send children whose families died from fighting in eastern Ukraine. It also provides college scholarships.
Ukrainian nonprofit Fight For Right is helping to coordinate shelter and resources for Ukrainians with disabilities. You can donate to them here.
Ruslan Gurzhiy, the editor-in-chief for Slavic Sacramento, started a GoFundMe to send food, water, gas and medications to Ukrainian refugees. You can donate here.
Culver City-based organization KidSave is currently raising funds here to provide transport, shelter and supplies to Ukrainian children and families.
Spring Of Life (SOL) Church, an evangelical Baptist church for Ukrainians in the Sacramento area, is collecting donations for three purposes:
- Purchasing food and water and bringing it into occupied areas.
- They’ve purchased three buses, and plan to purchase six more, to bring supplies into Ukraine and bring evacuees out of Ukraine.
- Sending a group of mental health specialists to Poland to provide Ukrainian refugees with counseling services.
First Ukrainian Baptist Church of Sacramento in Roseville is sending money to churches and other organizations in at least six areas of Ukraine, including Lutsk, Kiev and Borislava. Money is being used for food and first aid supplies.
If you know of an organization we should add to this list, please contact us at [email protected].
Correction: A previous version of this story mischaracterized chairman Vlad Skots’ position at Ukrainian American House and misspelled his last name. It has been corrected.
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