(L-R): Jill Rose, Campaign Chair and Dana Vizner, Chief Planning Officer standing at the Medyka border in Poland, the largest checkpoint between Poland and Ukraine that is accepting refugees on foot. 

From the Ukraine-Poland border, life looks very different. Residents of Ukrainian towns and cities have become refugees, seeking safety from a war that has destroyed lives and lifestyles. Mothers and children are living on what they can carry, while their husbands and sons stay behind to fight.

Woman from Ukraine is provided aid and care as she arrives in Poland

Jill Rose, Campaign Chair, and Dana Vizner, Chief Planning Officer, from the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County are now a part of this scene, seeing firsthand the impact made from donations to the JFNA campaign for Ukraine relief efforts. They boarded flights on Sunday, laden with toiletries and personal items to hand out, and now, they are meeting with Ukrainian refugees – Jews and non-Jews – who are receiving the food, medicine, and comfort offered by Jewish Federations’ partner agencies.

“We just met with seven different refugees in the basement of this yeshiva and heard their stories; each one was unique and heartbreaking,” said Jill. “But the common theme was thanking us for what we are doing, for giving them safety and security and a roof over (their) heads. The most touching was a 15-year-old girl who is an artist, and during the bombing, she stopped painting. Since she’s been here, she’s started painting again, and she shared with us her artwork. It’s of a little girl, holding a teddy bear. She was telling us that the children give (them) hope for the future. Their stories are incredible, and we are so blessed to be with them and learning from them about what we can be doing for our brethren in this tragedy.”

Young artist from Ukraine shares her story at a Yeshiva in Poland

Gratitude mixed with grief and worry

Dana was moved by another story, one from a mother who had to leave her 18-year-old son in Ukraine. As a mother of two sons, Dana was empathetically distraught at the thought of saying goodbye to her children and not knowing what the future held. Despite their overwhelming anxiety and grief, the refugees remained grateful for the outpouring of support given by our partner agencies and citizens of neighboring countries.

“They were living their best lives up until three or four weeks ago, when the war started. Obviously, now, their lives have been torn apart,” Dana said. “But they are expressing gratitude for all of the help. They see it and feel it. The outpouring is enormous.”

Please give. The work continues.

(L-R) Jill Rose and Dana Vizner in front of essential supplies to be delivered to the Medyka border, in Poland.

With multiple locations still under fire and millions of people now displaced, support for the Jewish community remains needed urgently. To fund this important work, please give at jewishboca.org/ukrainenow

Thank you for all you do to aid the people of Ukraine, the agencies that are working diligently to help them, and our friends in Israel, who are welcoming those making Aliyah. The work continues.