Support for Ukrainian family
By Mia Epstein
John Namkung, retired Sonoma County SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area) director, has traveled to Ukraine with his neighbor, David Schneider, to help transport Ukrainian refugees across the Polish-Ukrainian border into cities in Poland. Gary Moe, Kenwood resident and retired assistant superintendent for the Sonoma County Offfice of Education, has joined Namkung and the Lone Pine Ukrainian Family Aid program in an effort to resettle a family from Ukraine to Sonoma County.
Namkung and Moe have been friends and colleagues for over 47 years, as they worked in the education systems in the county. Moe recently dedicated much of his time to raising money and support for Kenwood’s parcel tax campaign, which passed in the recent election.
The Lone Pine Ukrainian Family Aid program, with Moe’s aid, is in the process of raising funds and filing the paperwork necessary to support the family’s travel expenses and living expenses once in Sonoma County.
Namkung has experience in refugee support efforts including two trips to Greece to teach children of Syrian refugees. The idea to support this family was sparked when Namkung was in Ukraine, driving people from Ukraine to Poland. One night he almost ran out of gas, but other people came to his aid and got Namkung’s group to Germany. He was particularly impressed with the family he drove that night, and wanted to help them further. This sparked the Lone Pine Ukrainian Family Aid program, and the family he drove that night is the one the program is now raising funds for.
The family is from Chernihiv, a city that was under intense attack during the first month of the war. Chernihiv was under siege by the Russians, and the family was able to escape a few days prior to the Russians’ retreating to the east. When Namkung returned to the United States, a group of people in the Lone Pine neighborhood of Sebastopol reached out to help fund the family’s relocation.
The family consists of three generations of women, including two daughters ages eight and 13, and a dog, Fara, as well. The men of the family are not able to relocate at the present moment, as they are fighting for their country in the current war against Russia’s invasion.
While the paperwork and visas have come along quickly for the women, there is a present difficulty with the mother-in-law’s visa. Getting the paperwork for a dog is more difficult than it may seem, but Fara is set to travel.
Many programs for Ukrainian refugees are in place, including assistance from state and federal governments to ensure a safe and financially supported life at the time of arrival in the United States. A home in Cotati is the current plan for housing the family, with other accommodations such as food, education, transportation, medical care, employment, and more also planned.
Most of the family’s support is coming from Sebastopol, but Moe hopes to be the liaison to the Kenwood, Glen Ellen, and Oakmont communities, and expand assistance for this family. The current goal is to raise $45,000 and once this goal is met, the family will travel to the United States. There are many ways to get involved and donate, but these are the top three: Write a check payable to Type of Wood Charities and send to 567 Polk St., Twin Falls, Idaho, 83301. Write “Lone Pine Ukrainian Family Aid” in the memo line of the check. GoFundMe: https://gofund. me/13b185b0. Or, contribute online at typeofwood.org. Do not select the PayPal option, click “choose amount” and select a one-time or monthly payment. Write “Lone Pine Ukrainian Family Aid” in the comment section.
Type of Wood Charities is a registered nonprofit and is the recipient of funds for the Lone Pine Ukrainian Family Aid program.
For more information or more ways to help besides donating, such as tutoring, driving the family to appointments, translating, furnishing the house etc., email Moe at [email protected] or call him at (707) 695-4065. Namkung is also available to answer questions by email at [email protected] or by phone at (707) 322-5448.