Written by Jack Gibson
The Pilsudski Society of Greenwich recently hosted a meet and greet to shed light upon the tragic situation occurring in Ukraine, as well as the good that can and is being done by members of the community to help.
The attendees consisted of displaced Ukrainian families as well as those who have been hosting them during their time in the US. Despite the context that brought everyone together, the event was a cheery one with plenty of good food on the grill and beverages to go around while everyone got acquainted.
“It’s been gratifying, very uplifting and positive. I can’t imagine going through what anyone is going through in Ukraine right now,” said Angela Leydon, one of the local residents who offered their home as a host. “They’ve had their lives turned upside down so we wanted to help anyway we can.”
While the bar may have seemed upon entering as it would on just about any other afternoon, a welcoming place for members of the community to enter and relax after a long day, a further inspection would go on to show just how much work was put into their support efforts for those in need.
Down the basement, underneath all of the story telling and friendly socializing was the true, visual and tangible testament to the hard work and dedication that has gone and will continue to go into The Pilsudski Society’s goal of offering as much help as possible to these families in the most unfortunate of circumstances.
Tables and racks covered and lined with necessities such as clothing, toiletries, books and toys filled the large room. It showed just how much had already been done with a relatively young endeavor. With no plans on stopping anytime soon, and a continued outpouring of support leading to even more donations, it seems that one of the next hurdles for the group will be as simple as finding space to keep everything.
“There’s going to be more to come here,” said Richard Muskus, the current president of The Pilsudski Society. “We’ve provided hyper-local support for many things around here, but this is different. This is making an impact on so many lives that have been turned upside down.”
The importance of the work being done by every individual to volunteer their time, money and energy to the cause does not seem to be lost on anyone. The sheer scale of the work being done is equally as prominent in the minds of those involved, it has led to new challenges that have become surmountable only by the unrelenting effort put in.
It’s people like Monika Krysicki and Amanda Murasso who have taken on the logistic-heavy task of finding and matching displaced Ukrainian families with host environments that are best suited to their situations, that have seen first hand where the nature of this work differs from more localized efforts.
“Just getting all of the information that we need in one place (has been difficult) because we don’t know much about the families when they’re coming here,” Murasso said. “And then there’s a language barrier. I don’t speak Ukrainian, so it’s not like I can just call them and get the information.”
Issues like that of the language barrier have made it more difficult for the Pilsudski Society to get the information that they wish to obtain in order to go above and beyond economic support and donations. A large portion of what they wish to offer these families is the opportunity to begin piecing together a complete life here, through networking and language education as well.
While the language barrier may be a bit of a thorn in the side of those on the information and logistical side of things, both Murasso and Krysicki mentioned another unforeseen factor that has made their jobs slightly harder – and it is certainly a good problem to have.
“I’m overwhelmed with the responses we’ve received,” Krysicki said. “A lot of people still contact me, ‘Can I donate? Can I donate? Where can I drop things off?’ so a lot of people are very, very supportive and very, very generous too. It made it a little more difficult because we don’t have room for all of this stuff that people donated! So we’re telling everyone please take more, take more!”
The event was rounded off by one last showcase of the charitable efforts put into place, with the presentation of new laptops for all of the displaced families, and a check, made out to them as well. It contained money that had been raised by Christy Caragol and the Pilsudski Society, which they claim is only the beginning of more fundraising efforts to come.