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Helping displaced Ukrainian families find safe haven in the East Kootenay

Non-profit society has assisted 11 families in relocating to the area, 10 more in the settlement process
A memorial fundraiser honouring the Sandor and Romich families was held on Wednesday, June 8, at the Royal Alexandra Hall in support of the Shelter for Ukrainians Society. Trevor Crawley photo.

A number of Ukrainian families have found homes in the East Kootenay, with more on the way, according to the latest update from the Shelter for Ukrainians Society.

“We are pleased to be able to report back to the community on some of the results of our work, on behalf of victims of the conflict in the Ukraine”, says Bonnie Spence-Vinge, President of the Society.

Since its inception, the Society has assisted 11 families (21 adults/14 children) relocate to homes of relatives or volunteer families largely in the Cranbrook and Kimberley area.

The Society has 10 more families in the settlement process and expect that many more will need help as the Russian military invasion of Ukraine reaches the six-month mark.

Society volunteers are helping displaced families navigate many difficult aspects that typically come with settling in a new country such as finding employment, finding temporary housing, overcoming language barriers and accessing language training and receiving supports for health services, education, banking, immigration status and spiritual and religious needs.

Since the society’s inception in April, there have been many community events and partners that have contributed financial and in-kind support to the cause, including:

• Sandor/Romich Memorial Dinner (Sandor and Romich Families and Terry Segarty)

• Rotary Park Vigil Perogy Sales (Auntie Barb’s Bakery)

• Sam Steele Days Kickoff BBQ by Royal Lepage East Kootenay Realty (with additional support from Rick’s Meats, Signwriter and Rockies Law)

• Music Festival, Rotary Park Perogy Sales (Auntie Barb’s Bakery)

• Canada Day Perogy Sales (Auntie Barb’s Bakery)

• Cranbrook Garden Club Tour Huckleberry Tart Sales

“We are touched and deeply appreciative of the support shown by the communities of the East Kootenays in helping these families who are experiencing such difficult circumstances,” said Spence-Vinge. “It is through the kind and generous nature of the communities that we are able to continue to do this important work. We would like to thank everyone who is helping us to do so.”

In order to support ongoing assistance for displaced Ukrainian families, the Society has received charitable non-profit status and has a three-year agreement with the Community Foundation of Kootenay Rockies (CFKR)which allows individual donors to receive tax receipts.

Donations can be mailed to CFKR at P.O. Box 242, Cranbrook, B.C. V1C 4H8 or delivered to the CFKR office in the Ground Floor Coworking Space at 131 7th Ave. S., Cranbrook, noting “Ukraine in the memo, by e-transfer to LynnetteWray@ (including “Ukraine” in the notes) or by credit card at

Corporate donors and those not seeking a tax receipt may donate directly by mail at 201-907 Baker Street, Cranbrook, B.C. V1C 1A4, at any branch of the East Kootenay Community Credit Union or delivered to the Rockies Law offices in Cranbrook, Kimberley, Invermere, Fernie or Sparwood.

Another fundraising event is in the works as the Society, in partnership with the Colombo Lodge in Cranbrook, is planning a spaghetti, meatballs and chicken on Friday, September 30, 2022 from 5-8 pm. Tickets are $35 per adult and $20 for children 12 and under.

There will be a silent auction of goods and services donated by local businesses.

All proceeds from the evening will go to the Shelter. Tickets are available through Mike Ortynski 250-489-8897 ( Mark Spence-Vinge 250-426-4274 ( Huckleberry Books 250-426-3415 and Flooring Superstore 250-417-0550.