Report From Ukraine: The Sequel

Mark Modzelewski read a recent “06880” story on Brian Mayer with interest. The Westport native described his work overseas, delivering much-needed supplies to Ukrainian citizens.

Mark — a past president of Westport’s Community Emergency Response Team, and board member for the American Red Cross Connecticut/Rhode Island region — worked with Brian, at the Ukraine/Poland border. Mark writes:

Since my return people have said, “It seems like so much charitable funding is already going to Ukraine. With all the options, where are donations most needed?”

Once I started to look into where to donate money, I was amazed at the number of different avenues. It would have been expedient to pick one and be done. But I was in a position to get directly involved to follow the money, and determine whether it was reaching those in need.  I now know where I would continue to fund.

If you are considering donating, I recommend putting the work of Brian at the top of your list.

Brian Mayer

He works incessantly. Between supply convoys, he shuttles passengers between the Przemyśl train station, the refugee transition center, and the border. The last-minute, critical supply convoys have gone directly to the border and deep into Ukraine, using funds Brian, I and others have raised.

I was gratified to be part of this humanitarian experience, because we served as “fixers” addressing the disruptions, gaps and lags in the supply chain.

Small- to mid-size NGOs on the Poland side have struggled to find transport vehicles and drivers to take donated goods across the border. With heavy use of WhatsApp, Google Translate and Google Maps, the dedicated collective of multinational, freelance volunteer drivers with rented and owned vans were on call and agile.

We organized convoys of supplies transported across the border to the last mile to those most in need (not just warehouses but orphanages, convents and people in bomb shelters). With volunteer drivers among various points in the supply routes, we got real-time reports on transport conditions and the needs of the displaced, which allowed us to supplement the next convoy of food supplies.

Volunteers load supplies.

From my disaster relief operations experience, there is almost always an imbalance of resources (supply v. demand), whether facilities, equipment, supplies, personnel or funding.

There are indeed gaps in funding for this operation. Ongoing contributions are critical, as funding in the initial stages of a disaster comes flooding in and then tapers off, presenting a planning challenge for ongoing service delivery.

Whatever charitable organization you choose, a steady stream of contributions is more helpful to the cause, as expenditures can be managed more efficiently to consistent trends of charitable inflows.

With Brian’s work and the collective work of the transport “fixers,” the funds go to work in a less-flashy and behind-the scenes manner, but with a more effective and immediate impact.

Brian has just established a US aid umbrella: Ukraine Aid International.  You can Venmo @ukraineaidinternational, or send tax deductible contributions to: Ukraine Aid International, 88 Partrick Road, Westport, CT 06880.

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A group of tired but committed volunteers. (Photos courtesy of Mark Modzelewski)

One response to “Report From Ukraine: The Sequel

  1. Peter Mihalick

    As I read the reports from these two fixers I wonder what makes people such as this leave their comfortable life and put themselves in such a dangerous position. I can only describe it as raw courage. I wish more of us had this type of empathy to help our fellow humans. More than empathy it takes action and so many of us can’t leave our comfortable lives and provide even the bare necessities for these tortured people. Stay safe and know that you are admired.

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