• Pantemeinolivs’ka, 76, Odesa, Ukraine, 65000

Donor Email, Wk. 5: A New Year of Hope, with Feathers

Dear donors and friends,

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
     – Emily Dickinson

It has been a difficult year for Ukraine. For many of us. My greatest wish for everyone, my highest goal in this place, is to amplify the voice of that thing with feathers which perches in the soul. I truly believe that it never stops – at all – but it is terribly hard to hear sometimes. Thank you, each of you, for the contributions and support and love which continue to come my way and which I work constantly to pass on to the people of Ukraine.


Of $3,993 collected so far (thank you again, everyone), we’ve spent $1,202.12, receipts for which can be found on our website at the following link:

We have also committed to a small grant for a local NGO which is building an app to help displaced persons find humanitarian aid, as well as discussions about establishing a more permanent humanitarian center here in the south of Ukraine. I’ll keep you updated on all of it.


Monday was a banner day for us, as we helped coordinate our first distribution of aid outside of Odesa. With partners from the humanitarian team at the Odesa Peoples’ Church, we bought the materials for 350 hygiene packets (toilet paper, clothes-washing powder, soap, and toothbrushes), packaged them all individually, packaged those packages by the twenties in big red bags, and got them delivered to Kramatorsk, which is hosting thousands of refugees from the front lines! This was the result:

Each time I have left Odesa for distributions in cities closer to the front lines, I have been struck by the extraordinary need and deep gratitude of the people there. Battered by the incessant stresses of war, from blackouts to temporary housing to friends on the front line, they are always surprised to see an American coming with help from his friends and family back home. I have shaken so many hands, received so many smiles, looked in so many grateful eyes. I hope to be working more in these hard-hit areas in the future.

Tuesday and Wednesday I had several meetings working on the mobile application for displaced persons, planning for a potential permanent location, and following up on Monday’s distribution in Kramatorsk. And Thursday and Friday were spent buying materials for and planning for our weekly visit to the Odesa psychiatric hospital on Saturday.These Saturday runs to the mental hospital have become one of my favorite parts of Odesa. It’s a completely volunteer-run thing, which Dignity Aid Int’l merely help to fund, and several of the volunteers even insist on contributing some of their own funds each week to make sure we can keep it afloat. The volunteers are mostly employees at various NGOs and local organizations who decided to start visiting the hospital, which is naturally a rough place to be stuck, and handing out some fresh fruit and cookies to the patients. Incredibly, it has continued for months now, and I am so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to be included with them.

This Saturday was no different. There were smiles, there were frowns, there were handshakes and shouts of recognition. Thanks to some generous local donors, we were able to source some blankets and get those to needy wards. Thanks to you friends and donors, we were able to provide fruit and cookies to an extra department this week. I feel in my heart that we are making a difference to staff and patients alike.

Saturday night was New Year’s Eve, of course. Spent it with good friends, volunteers here from the United States helping in the medical field. Sunday we rested. On to another week.

Dignity Aid Blog: Getting Old Donor Updates Online

I’ve decided to start archiving older donor emails on our Dignity Aid website as blog posts. It’s been nice for me to go back through these and remember those heady (and difficult) first days, when everything was so new. I mean, it’s only a month ago, but with months like these, who needs years. You can send these to friends of course, or just follow the emails, or whatever is easiest. So far I’ve got two posted:

Seeking New Board Member in USA

In talking to the lawyer who is generously donating time to help get the organization legally recognized in the US, he advised that we should probably have at least one board member in the US who could serve as a physical presence in the country as well as list their address for legal purposes. This would not be a time-consuming position — probably a board meeting every few weeks, maybe keeping up with the emails, hopefully no snail mail. Of course, this individual would also be welcome to become more involved in the organization if they so desired. I would love to have one of our donors become involved in this capacity. If you are interested, please reach out to me by email or DM and we can discuss further details. Thank you.

Sending love to all.