One year ago yesterday, Brian Mayer was working at a tech job in New York.
That day, the Russian army matched across the border to Ukraine. The largest war in Europe since World War II began.
Mayer and his brother Marshall — Westporters, who grew up here — quickly pivoted. They headed to Ukraine, and put their organizational skills to work.
In one year, the non-profit has achieved astonishing success.
They and their partners on the ground have delivered over 1 million pounds of aid directly to civilians on the front line.
They’ve supported more than 100 communities in liberated areas, and driven over 100,000 miles to provide aid to the hardest-to-reach towns, and most-impacted villages.
Every day, they provide over 125,000 Ukrainians with infrastructural support (electricity, heat and cleaning water).
That’s the big picture. Equally remarkable, Ukraine Aid International has been instrumental in helping Westport partner with Lyman, a town in the Donbas.
The Mayers and Liz Olegov, their COO, worked with 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Lyman mayor Alexander Victoravich Zuravlov to develop an initiative. “06880” helped lead a fundraising effort that, in just 3 weeks during the holiday season, brought in over $252,000.
UAI has put the money to extraordinary use.
The first delivery — at Christmas — was 400 meals, 2,000 loaves of bread, and 491 gifts (one for every child remaining in town).
In January they delivered 2 police patrol cars and 2 trash vehicles to Lyman (the Russians had taken them all when they fled), plus printers, laptops, tablets, Starlink communication devices, socks, shoes and sweaters.
This month, a 20-ton truck carried repair materials for 6 apartment buildings, and bulletproof vests and helmets for utility workers near the front lines.
Local contractors are already lined up, to ensure that 2,000 Lyman residents now living in basements and elsewhere can return to their homes this spring.
The Westport town flag now hangs in the Lyman office, and on the sides of the donated vehicles. Lyman’s flag, meanwhile, has been donated to Westport.
Much more is on the way — for Lyman, and other devastated areas in Ukraine.
It’s been a brutal year for the war-torn nation.
But it’s also been a very productive one for 2 Westport brothers who saw a need. They thought they could help.
They moved mountains — in the form of countless tons of building material, communication equipment, clothes and more — to make a difference.
The war continues. It’s now in its second year.
So, fortunately, is Ukraine Aid International.
Ukraine Aid International continues to raise funds for Lyman, and the rest of the country. To make a tax-deductible contribution, click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here).