SALEM, Oregon — For Olena Sheremetyeva, last summer feels like a world away. Photos from her family vacation in Kyiv, Ukraine, show loved ones smiling without any worries. Today, Sheremetyeva’s mother and father are still in Kyiv, but now their smiles are gone.
“They are going through survival at the moment because they don't know what the future holds for them,” said Sheremetyeva, who lives with her husband and son in Salem. She said her parents, Nataliya and Mykola, spend their nights in Kyiv awake in a bomb shelter. They spend their days checking on friends while trying to eat and rest.
They also connect with Sheremetyeva when they can.
“Every time they can they text me is the hardest part for me because every time I talk to them I mentally prepare it's the last time I talk to them.”
Olena's husband Joey Rudisill said the entire family is worried about loved ones in Ukraine.
“I liken it to watching 9/11 on [Olena’s] part, every single day,” said Rudisill, “And knowing that it's coming again tomorrow.”
Rudisill is Chief Information Officer at Central Willamette Credit Union, one of 15 credit unions in Oregon that just raised $67,000 for Ukrainian relief. Half the money raised will go to Portland-based Mercy Corps. The rest will go to the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions which is also helping in Ukraine.
“I'm proud of the credit unions for doing what they're doing to make this happen,” said Rudisill.
The fundraising effort stemmed from a recent meeting among several credit union executives including Clackamas Federal Credit Union CEO Aaron Goff. They heard from the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. speak about Ukraine's need for humanitarian aid and decided to help.
“It was very moving,” said Goff. “We often come together to have impact, to do things to help the community and our members. Usually, it's the local community but in this case, halfway around the world.”
As the world waits for word of hope in Ukraine, so does Sheremetyeva’s family.
“I hope that my grandparents are alive,” said Sheremetyeva’s 7-year-old son, Nicholas. “And I hope that Ukraine wins.”