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NYC Mothers Unite to Help Ukraine

NYC Mothers Unite to Help Ukraine

The fundraiser is close to home for several moms in the group who are from Ukraine and surrounding areas

Olga Lavinda speaks to her mother Ludmila on the phone every day. They chat and catch up on the day's events. Sometimes Lavinda's 16-month-old daughter chimes in to say hello to her grandma, then smiles and giggles abound. 

But too often, delightful conversations like this are abruptly interrupted. Lavinda has to put her phone down when the rumbling of helicopters, fighter planes and rockets on the other end make it impossible to hear. Lavinda, 39, lives on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. Her mother, 70, lives in Kharkiv, Ukraine, a city in the country’s northeast region that has been devastated by the ongoing Russian attacks that started about a month ago. 

“My mother is refusing to leave,” Lavinda, a chemistry professor at the City University of New York, said. “It's very hard, I think. She has a strong sense of nationalism and love for the country.” 

So Ludmila continues to stay put in the place that is her home. She’s “fearless,” as Lavinda describes, and even volunteers to help others who are staying behind. A lover of animals, she takes in pets from her neighborhood who have been abandoned by their humans seeking refuge. 

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree when it comes to helping others in Lavinda's family. Though she's two continents and an ocean away from the conflict, she's doing what she can to help those back home in Ukraine–her birth country. Lavinda, along with several other mothers she knows from a local parenting group, came together only a few weeks ago to form NYC Moms for A Cause to help Ukrainian families in crisis. 

There are about 16 mothers in NYC Moms for a Cause, most of them from the Upper East Side. Like Lavinda, several of the moms have personal ties to Ukraine through family, colleagues and nonprofit work in the area. Others are native New Yorkers. All want to help. 

As a major fundraising effort to help their cause, the group is hosting An Evening for Ukraine to benefit Razom for Ukraine, a nonprofit organization launched in 2014 to support Ukraine and help it thrive. The event will be at the Ukrainian Institute of America on April 12, with 100% of the proceeds going to Razom's work to provide aid for displaced families, medical supplies and on-the-ground humanitarian relief. 

“Razom usually provides medicine and supplies to Ukraine, and of course during this time, they do much more,” Lavinda said. “So we decided to have a benefit and do a silent auction to raise funds that will go directly to this organization.”

Many of the moms involved in the project were doing their own fundraising efforts at first, but they decided to collaborate by pooling ideas and sharing connections in the hope of making an even bigger impact.

“The idea was formed to do a fundraiser because there are a lot of moms on the Upper East Side who are influencers and have a lot of connections.”

At a brainstorming session, the group of moms came up with ideas for the event which will include a cocktail reception, silent auction, live performances and more. 

Being part of this collaborative effort is important to fellow mom in the group, Agata Lemiesz, who has friends and family in her native Poland who are helping arriving Ukrainian refugees receive shelter, childcare, and other important resources. 

“As a born and raised Polish woman, the war in Ukraine feels very personal to me,” Lemiesz said. “However, as a new mom, seeing the images of families torn apart and mothers forced to escape with young children breaks my heart.

Lavinda said she feels very proud to be part of this group of women who are doing what they can to help her fellow Ukrainians back home. 

“It is overwhelming support in general. We've been able to accomplish so much so far,” Lavinda said. 

Helping Razom for Ukraine

All proceeds from the event will benefit Razom. Like many of the women in NYC Moms for a Cause, Razom’s president, Dora Chomiak, has close family ties in Ukraine. 

“As a native New Yorker, daughter of displaced persons from Ukraine, and mom of two, I am so incredibly grateful and thankful to NYC Moms for a Cause for their generous contribution,” Chomiak said. “Razom–which means “together” in Ukrainian–is very focused right now on delivering critical humanitarian aid on the ground to save lives.”

What to Expect at An Evening for Ukraine 

Attendees at the event will enjoy: 

  • Live Performances: Singing by Ukrainian Village Voices and Ukrainian folk dancing

  • Art Displays: There will be a pysanky display of traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs

  • Food and Drink: Canapes and flowing drinks will be available

  • Silent auction: Includes a variety of travel destinations and staycation packages, entertainment passes, family items such as family photoshoots and kids’ classes, and Ukrainian cultural items such as pysanky Easter eggs and other art

Details for Attending the Event

An Evening for Ukraine will be hosted by NYC Moms for a Cause at the Ukrainian Institute of America, located at 2 East 79 St., Manhattan, on Tuesday, April 12; 6:30-9pm. 

General admission tickets are $175. For more information about the event, including how to make a donation to Razom, visit the group’s event page or Instagram.

Main image: Royal Graphics/Getty Images

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Barbara Russo

Author: Barbara Russo is a freelance writer who holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the City University of New York. She enjoys playing guitar, following current events, and hanging out with her pet rabbits. See More

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