Because it has been for greater than twenty years, West Hollywood deliberate to carry a competition Sunday to rejoice Russian artwork and tradition in honor of one of many metropolis’s largest immigrant teams.
However this winter, when Russia invaded Ukraine, beginning a conflict that killed hundreds and produced greater than 6 million refugees, the point out of “Russia” and “competition” in the identical breath turned taboo.
Metropolis officers as a substitute relaunched this yr’s occasion as a fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees, combining free actions for kids (face portray, magicians, carnival video games) with a silent public sale and gathering donations. Displayed cubicles for humanitarian assist teams.
“The aim of all that is to assist those that are in want proper now,” stated Eugene Mesky, who moved from St Petersburg to Southern California seven years in the past and is now the chairman of the Russian advisory board for West Hollywood.
West Hollywood has lengthy claimed to have the most important focus of Russian-speaking residents outdoors of New York, with immigrants from the previous Soviet Union together with Latvia, Georgia, the Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine on the metropolis’s jap finish.
Mesky stated of the continuing conflict, “There is no rhyme or motive or level in doing this, as a result of all of us have relations in each international locations.” “For us, it is like attempting to hit one hand with the opposite.”
Company Chewed within the Solar at Plummer Park pelmeni Dumplings and Lithuanian ice cream on tables adorned in blue and yellow, a tribute to the flag of Ukraine. Photos of blooming sunflowers – the nationwide flower of Ukraine – adorned the stage. Among the attendees wore sunflower crowns, draped Ukrainian flags over their shoulders and carried a contact of ache, solidarity, defiance and humor with their T-shirts. One learn: “My spouse is Ukrainian. Nothing scares me.”
Working among the many cubicles lining the park was Julia Stadnik, vp of the transport firm Meist, the Ukrainian phrase for the bridge. Because the begin of the conflict, Stadnik stated that he and his household, who run the Glendale outpost of Mest, have taken benefit of their many years of logistics expertise and networks in Poland and Germany to gather greater than 100,000 tons of humanitarian assist – clothes, meals. And helped ship “Something”. for the military. ,
“It is annoying,” stated Stadnik, who was born in L.A. however whose dad and mom are from Lviv in western Ukraine. Many relations are nonetheless in Ukraine, though the west aspect is comparatively calm. “However a cousin is getting skilled and prepared for the navy,” Stadnik stated. “They’re all apprehensive.”
On Sunday, Stadnik was telling passersby that they might purchase meals, even flower care packages, to distribute to family members in Ukraine, and the general public would give cash on to the corporate for ongoing assist shipments. can.
“Humanitarian assist continues to be being introduced in,” she defined, referring to donations of clothes and different gadgets. “However funding to get it abroad is the tough half.”
On the second sales space, volunteers gathered for dozens of . had been promoting Vaishavanka, a conventional embroidered shirt. A Reseda doctor, Dr. Alex Friedman, purchased the shirts straight from Ukraine, and all proceeds from Sunday’s gross sales had been paying for refugee kids attending Camp Gesher, a Jewish summer time camp in Malibu. The proceeds of the silent public sale had been additionally supporting attendance on the camp, stated longtime program producer Dina Gontar.
The competition was a “big” change in tenure from earlier years, Gontar acknowledged, and he or she was not sure about what subsequent yr would deliver: “Hopefully the conflict might be over, and we’ll dwell in peaceable instances.”
For Victoria Pindrick, fundraising supplied an opportunity to remind the group concerning the assist they wanted. Pindrick based the non-profit Save Ukraine Aid Fund on the second day of the conflict, and since then the group has accomplished greater than 1,000 emergency evacuations, serving to refugees on the US-Mexico border.
Often called SURF—a tribute to its base in California—the group has turn into a middle for assist with meals, assist, jobs, and paperwork for refugees. Though Pindrick noticed rising help within the early weeks of the Russian invasion, he turned much less as time went on.
“It is turn into part of each day life — ‘Oh, one other rocket,'” she stated. “However for these whose family and friends are on the entrance strains, they do not know if they are going to hear their voices tomorrow.”
He stated Sunday’s competition and fundraiser had been meant to remind individuals, “We’re right here and out there.”
Mesky of the Russian Advisory Board took the household metaphor additional, hoping that within the occasion of an “absurd” conflict, fundraising may foster better unity amongst Russian-speaking peoples.
“We have at all times been brothers and sisters – brother and sister,” he stated. “It is not that every thing is at all times good, however like brothers and sisters, ultimately we arise for one another as a result of we love one another.”