PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – Over the past few months, many rallies and marches have taken place in Arizona to show solidarity with Ukraine. On Saturday, another event at the Central United Methodist Church in Phoenix brought together different members of the community. All were united in their support but also accepted that much more could be done.
“I have no words to explain how difficult it is,” said Yuriy Melnyk.
Vice President of the Phoenix Branch of the Committee of the Ukrainian Congress of America has family and friends on the front lines of Ukraine, and he has family and friends who have fled the country. What Yuriy – and so many others lack – is clarity on what’s next.
“I really don’t understand how humans can do something like this,” he said.
But Yuriy and others in Arizona who support Ukraine understand that help comes in different ways. This event at Central United Methodist Church was a chance for so many to keep pushing forward and to keep demanding more.
“Phoenix is united that we support Ukraine,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said. “And what is happening is unacceptable.”
Gallego joined other Ukrainian community leaders in turning words into actions. In his case, that meant making sure the city of Phoenix no longer invested in Russian-backed interests. Event volunteers sold Ukrainian flags and food and mingled with friends and strangers both in the church and on Central Avenue. All the money raised will go to Ukrainian Women’s National League of Americathe Committee of the Ukrainian Congress of America and the Patron Saint Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Ukraine at Phoenix.
“We would like more guns,” St. Mary’s Church President Victor Szwez said. “We would like fighter jets. We must protect the Ukrainian people.
Some of these Ukrainians have arrived in Arizona over the past few months or weeks. For them, seeing dozens of people gather at the Central United Methodist Church was a much-needed sign of hope. Karolina Yermak was born and raised in Kyiv. She worries about the safety of people in her homeland but is grateful to have found a second family of activists in Arizona.
“It’s wonderful,” Yermak said. “It’s good. It’s another opportunity for me to share messages with my friends who need support. It’s just great that Ukrainians can come here, stay and be in a safe place.
A place to look to the future, or in the case of Damian Rodriguez and his wife Nina, even to marry.
“A week ago I was in Ukraine,” Nina said. “And now I’m here in Phoenix, just got married. It’s a bit of a weird, tough wait, actually. But it’s worth it.”
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