OPINION - A Call to Action for Ukraine


In 2012, I met a woman in South Florida, her name was Natalia Buryk, now Natalia Huemoller.  At the time, I knew nothing about the country of Ukraine.  That changed quickly over many family meals with her parents and brother.  Over many elaborate dishes of amazing Ukrainian food and vodka (of course), I grew to truly love their outlook on life, their warmness and embrace of the American life.  They moved here in 2003 after winning the green card lottery and did everything the right way.  They are the best Americans that I know.  

Natalia and I had a traditional wedding in the Orthodox Ukrainian church in Miami.  This small church was filled to the brim with Ukrainians that I didn’t know.  They welcomed me into their community with open arms.  Complete strangers, many of them custodians, maintenance men, and flower shop workers, all of which earn an hourly wage, eagerly gave Natalia and I presents and whatever money they could scrape up.  Natalia gave a stirring speech at the reception; I didn’t understand a word.  But I did know how to say one thing and it is so important to the Ukrainian People.  I yelled, “Slava Ukraini.”  Glory to Ukraine.  The crowd roared back the second part all together “Heroyam Slava!!!!” Glory to our heroes.  With that, people in that community say still that I am one of them, and I am proud of that.  

As part of an extended honeymoon trip around the word, Natalia and I spent 5 weeks in Ukraine helping her grandmother with farm chores and seeing the sights Ukraine had to offer.  Ukrainians loved seeing a 6’4 American work the fields.  Again, total strangers sought us out to give us the money they had to congratulate us. I tried to refuse once, it was a bad idea.  Every person I met welcomed me wholeheartedly and they could not have been more thrilled to meet the American who married their friend / niece / cousin.  A family friend, Halyna welcomed us in her home in Kyiv to stay for a few days.  She cooked, had a party and offered everything they had to make sure we were comfortable.  The six-year-old granddaughter was excited to practice her English and said with bright eyes “hello, my name is Olyana, what is your name?” about 1,100 times as it was all she knew in English.  She gave me a cherished toy to take around the world, I still have it.  Heart wrenching to imagine where Olyana is now, and what she is feeling.  

Many of you have met my kids. They have Ukrainian names. Zoe, who we call Zoya or Zoyichka and Leo who we call Lev or Levchick.  

The point is that this war is hitting very close to home.

So what?  Why am I telling you this?  It is time for me to do what I can to return all the goodwill and love this amazing country and its people have shown me.  I have the absolute privilege to know most of the people reading this.  We all have the privilege of living where we do and working in an industry that is thriving.

It is time for us to put our money where our mouth is. The country that has adopted me is at this moment, the center of the world.  They are fighting the world's fight, and they are fighting a good fight. 

I don’t need to tell you what is happening in Ukraine from a military perspective.  Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you already know.  I will however tell you that the kind 67 year-old-woman that took care of us in Kyiv, Halyna, is at home making Molotov cocktails in her back yard.  Olyana and her parents have fled to the countryside to avoid the devastation.  Her Dad has returned to Kyiv to join the fight not knowing if he will see his family again.  Our many friends and family members will not leave.  Every single person we have been in touch with is staying to defend Ukraine.  

As a population, they seemed to have transformed into Spartans.  Their President refused to accept the American offer to evacuate to another country, “I need ammo, not a ride” was his response.  The world cannot agree on a lot these days, but we can all agree Ukrainians are made from something different.  I am so proud of them.  The military needs help.

The human cost of this war is astounding.  Incomprehensible.  As of today, over four million (4,000,000) people have left Ukraine (this does not include people who have had to leave their homes but are still in Ukraine).  Three weeks ago, they were just like you, going to work and living normal lives. These are women with their children, students of other nations and elderly (though many elderly are staying and are joining the defense).  These refugees need help.

Ukraine needs help and they need it NOW.

Now it is time for us to do our part and stop being merely spectators.  We can still have an impact on this war.  

If you take issue with a mighty power invading a country just because it knows it can, give.

If you think it is awe inspiring to see an entire population of 44,000,000 stand up together and defend their nation, give.

If you can’t stand the thought of refugees running for their lives with nowhere to go, give. 

Even if you just want to do a favor for your old pal Huey, PLEASE, give.

Below are links to provide humanitarian and military aid. The Central Bank of Ukraine has established a special bank account for the military to draw on and there are dozens of organizations who are handling the growing humanitarian crises.  Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia are really stepping up to accept displaced people. 

Military Aid - https://bank.gov.ua/ua/news/all/natsionalniy-bank-vidkriv-spetsrahunok-dlya-zboru-koshtiv-na-potrebi-armiyi 


These links are legit, they are not scams.  

Please let me know if you have given and I will make it my personal mission to find a way to repay your kindness.  

Most importantly, root for Ukraine.  Take their side.  Help them survive this and remember my wedding speech.  



Thank you all for reading if you made it this far.


Your friend,

John Huemoller

Email - [email protected]