MINNEAPOLIS — For the second consecutive year, a portion of the proceeds from St. Michael’s St. George’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Easter egg event will support overseas efforts in the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The event, highlighted by the traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs known as psyanky, has served as a church fundraiser for decades. When the war began in 2022, it took on a new meaning.
“It’s so unreal you know when you speak to somebody about this,” said Alex Poletz, one of the church’s oldest members. “Nobody can believe this is happening in the world.”
In the past year, church members say they’ve seen more refugees come from Ukraine to the Twin Cities. Walter Wydowchyn and his wife Julie Pawluk took Inna Pronina, a Ukrainian refugee, into their homes through a mutual aid program.
“She’s extremely happy being here, but she still worries what’s going on at home,” Wdowychyn said.
“When our parents came over [from Ukraine], somebody helped them, and it was just something that we should do,” Pawluk said.
In another case, high school student Yulia Heleveria was living in America as part of a Ukrainian exchange program when the war began. She hasn’t been able to return, or see her family in person since.
“My mom and my little sister traveled to Poland for a while, because my mother couldn’t work and my sister couldn’t study. There was just constant sirens. There was no electricity, nothing,” Heleveria said. “There were a couple of times when I’m just crying. I want to go home, it’s very tough. I miss my parents. I want to go back to my normal life in Ukraine.”
Members of the church are hopeful Ukraine is gaining ground on Russia. Many displaced people, like Heleveria’s mother and sister, have been able to return home.
More than anything, the church members want people in the Twin Cities to know there is still a war, and a need for help.
“Ukraine is still here. It’s strong,” Wdowychyn said. “Our Ukrainian community is vibrant. We’re concerned. We help each other. We help our refugees. And we just don’t want this war to be forgotten.”