Ken Bernhard: Report From Ukraine

Ken Bernhard has a very impressive resume, as an elected official and volunteer. 

He spent 8 years representing Westport in Connecticut’s General Assembly, rising to assistant minority leader. He was our 3rd selectman from 1987 to ’89, then served on the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Ken Bernhard

The longtime Westporter has been a board member of the Westport Library, Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, Norwalk Human Services Council, Earthplace, Westport Historical Society, Levitt Pavilion, Aspetuck Land Trust, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, and Connecticut League of Conservation Voters,

Further afield, he has worked with Syrian refugees. His latest project is in Ukraine. Ken writes:

I just returned from Poland/Ukraine. I helped deliver medical supplies, including (tourniquets, compression bandages, catheters, bandages and more.

All was donated locally, to Westport EMS, Colonial and Achorn’s Drug Stores, Walgreens, CVS, and Norwalk Hospital.

The equipment was requested by Westporter Brian Mayer, who has been in country for 3 months helping with the crisis. His parents, Jeff and Nancy, joined me with duffle bags of their own list of requested supplies.

(From left): Ken Bernhard, and Jeff, Nancy and Brian Meyer, unloading supplies.

Brian is a remarkable young man (34), who helps, works and coordinates efforts  in Ukraine each day until 3 p.m. Then, with the 6-hour time difference, he goes online to work at his US office for hours.

He is connected with a  group of fascinating young volunteers (in their 20s) from all parts of the world. They drive supplies from Kviv to the troops on the front lines (round trip takes 40+ hours).

After working all day, these volunteers stopped for a beer. One has been in Poland/Ukraine since the first week of the war. He plans to stay a year. Another drove 18,000 miles in June, taking wounded soldiers to Germany for medial care.

Their stories of determination and courage of providing supplies and equipment, where the government and not-for-profits are overwhelmed, leave me in awe.

For 5 days we met dozens of other volunteers who have come to Ukraine because they felt the need to do something to help. The internet and chats groups are remarkably effective. Strangers connect, meet, organize and mobilize in efforts to bring food and medical supplies where they are needed.

This young volunteer has driven several times to the border towns, delivering supplies. She saw Russian drones overhead, and sped up to hide. She has helped wounded people after missile strikes. She is 25, speaks 5 languages (including Russian), and feels she has found her mission.

It was a true honor working with each and every one of them. The crisis is so much more palpable and critical when seen first hand.

I would be remiss if I didn’t pass along a request.

Mykolaiv (population of 200,000) is a key shipbuilding city in the south. Its infrastructure, including water purification systems, was destroyed by Russian missiles. Most drinking water is contaminated. There is a need to construct new systems.

The group that Brian works with has located a supplier who will deliver and construct small purification systems, each capable of providing enough daily potable water for 4000 people.

The first system was installed at the local firehouse a few weeks ago. Water is piped from a tributary off the Black Sea, and exits at a pipe in the firehouse where it can be accessed 24/7. Each system costs $6,000.

Jeff, Nancy and I can vouch for the dedication and trustworthiness of this hard-working international team of volunteers. For more information, click here. for Brian’s blog.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made to Brian’s newly created not-for-profit, Ukraine Aid International.

The need is urgent. Our help is impactful, and greatly appreciated by the people of Ukraine. Thank you in advance.

Lines of cars leaving Ukraine for Poland. (All photos courtesy of Ken Bernhard)

9 responses to “Ken Bernhard: Report From Ukraine

  1. Larry Weisman

    Just one more extraordinary charitable act by an extraordinary citizen of the world. Would that there were more like him who turn empathy into action. Thank you Ken.

    • I was searching for the words as I was reading the article. You have said them beautifully. Thank you Larry.
      But, mores, Thank You Ken.

  2. Ken, you are amazing. ( Along with the whole crew you portray!) Thank you for the hope and inspiration this morning.

  3. Jack Backiel

    Ken and all the volunteers are true heroes! We are once again witnessing good versus evil in the world.

  4. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Wonderful and meaningful action by an obviously special person who puts his life, his money and his passion where his mouth is even though he appears to be modest about touting himself which I find refreshing. Problem with the whole thing is the war is still grinding on, people are dying and the situation continues to spin out of control. Mr. Bernhard has already shown his leadership ability from many angles. I am curious as to what he thinks about the leadership we have in DC and how they’re handling the crisis in Ukraine. May God keep you safe Mr. Bernhard. Thank you for providing inspiration!

  5. God Bless you Ken .. You and the others are True Heroes “”

  6. Jennifer Bangser

    We are proud to bring Ken and Brian, together in conversation, at the Westport Library on Monday evening, 8/15 at 7pm: On the Ground in Ukraine with Ukraine Aid International. Register here, live or zoom:

    Please join the community for what will be an inspiring and informative evening. Thanks!

  7. Ellen M Bowen

    Inspiring to see young people like Brian step up to help those impacted by this terrible war.

  8. Carol W Cederbaum

    Wonderful letter from Ken. The organization he worked with is exactly the kind “on the ground” organization that gets the most out of every dollar and item. After reading his letter in the column, I then read about Ukraine Aid International which he worked with. It not only connects volunteers like Ken and ships needed humanitarian items (diapers, bandages), it researches and connects suppliers with the special expertise to meet complex urgent needs (like water desalinization equipment) in specific locations. So thats where my donation for Ukraine just went to. My thanks to Ken and Dan Woog for highlighting this.
    Carol Cederbaum