Fundraising for Verba and Vesele

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” -Winston Churchill

The need for support

Since volunteering with Ukrainian kids in Poland last summer, I have been corresponding with the mayors of the two Ukrainian towns involved in the partnership. They have both shared with me the hardships of life during the war and the needs of their community.

As international aid has slowed down, the needs of the people of these towns has grown. This is why I am raising $2,000 to support both of these villages. TO DONATE, PLEASE EMAIL ME FOR INSTRUCTIONS AT: MEVANDYCK2007@GMAIL.COM

The need for support


Verba is located in western Ukraine, about a 2 hour drive east of Lviv. Kamila Kotvinska is the Mayor of Verba. About 4,500 people currently live in Verba. Approximately 300 people from the community are serving in the military, of which 6 have died, 2 are missing, and 2 have been captured. 70 have been wounded. Two residents of Verba died in 2014 while participating in an anti-terrorist operation during the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Everyone has relatives fighting and there is no security. Many people are in constant anxiety, pain, and sadness. Children were not able to attend school until October of 2022 because the school facilities were used for military personnel. Even now there is not full- fledged education and the educational facilities have significantly deteriorated. Air raid sirens sound multiple times a day and everyone is forced to take shelter. Most people want peace, but a victorious peace. Taxes cannot be used to support the schools as almost all money has to be funneled to support the military. The town has also taken in 300 refugees from areas of Ukraine with fighting which continues to stress the public services. Verba has requested adult diapers for the elderly, baby food, hygiene products, clothes, bed linens, and medical supplies. They have also requested computers, stationery, laptops, and TVs for the schools.



Vesele is located about 70 kilometers from the sea and a 3 hour drive to Zaporizhzhia. It is currently occupied by the Russians. The town’s mayor is Peter Kiyashko who is currently governing in exile from Zaporizhzhia, where many other people from Vesele currently live. Peter was forced to leave his town with 12 other city officials after repeated abductions, intimidation, and threats on his life. The Russians quickly occupied Vesele in the opening days of the war. About 30% of their population was able to leave, mostly escaping to Zaporizhzhia. Residents who were not able to escape are under constant terror and systematic checks by the occupiers. Most men who were able to escape during the early days of the war have joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but at least 8 of these men have died so far. The Russians have abducted and tortured activists, officials and even ordinary citizens in order to get important information from residents. Most children are not able to attend school and those who do are subject to systematic Russian propaganda. About 9,000 people remain in Vesele. Unfortunately, those who remain trapped behind front lines cannot be helped, but those who have relocated to Zaporizhzhia need support. They had to leave quickly and were only able to bring the most necessary personal belongings. They need help buying groceries, clothes, hygiene products, and medicines in Zaporizhzhia.

Peter Kiyashko- Mayor of Vesele

Meeting between Matthew and Peter, July 2023, Kotun Poland

Previous fundraising campaign from spring 2023 to raise money for Global volunteers and fund my service trip teaching english to Ukrainian children in Poland.


1:1 Donor Matched.

Program Fee

Tax deductible through FlipCause profile.

Most of this Fee goes directly to refugees in Poland.  

A small share supports my housing and food while in country.

In 2014 Russia annexed Crimea and on February 24, 2022, it invaded Ukraine in an attempt to take over the rest of the country. The invasion has caused a large-scale destruction of infrastructure and thousands of civilian casualties. Eight million Ukrainians have fled the country and are now living temporarily outside the country in the E.U. Over 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees are now in neighboring Poland, where they are eligible for temporary protection. All of these refugees left behind their homes, families, jobs and schools. In Poland, Ukrainians need immediate support in the form of food, clothing, shelter, schooling, and childcare. Most do not speak Polish or English, making it hard to function in their host country. Learning English is a pathway to living, working, and raising their children in the European Union. Many refugees had to leave loved ones behind, some have lost their dads, uncles, brothers, and friends in the war, and may need emotional support, especially young children. The war has placed major stress on Ukrainian families. Children worry about family members left behind, while adults are trying to find work. 

Global Volunteers has mobilized almost 40,000 volunteers in the last 39 years in partner communities in 36 countries. Global Volunteers is in special consultative status with the United Nations, has a platinum rating on Candid, and a four-star rating for accountability and transparency on Charity Navigator. Its Poland program has been around since 1990, teaching English to local Polish children in order to give them a better chance for participation in the world economy. Since the start of the war, Global Volunteers has pivoted its program in Siedlce to support Ukrainian refugees who have recently arrived in Poland.

For any donations exceeding $50, I am offering a unique, original hand-made watercolor art piece as a token of appreciation for your kindness and support.

I am 15 years old and go to Friday Harbor High School, located on San Juan Island, accessible only by boat or plane in the far corner of the United States. I live on the Salish Sea with my parents, little sister, and Labrador, Lucy. I run for the track team and play on my school’s soccer team, which won the state championship last fall. This summer I will be traveling to Siedlce, Poland to work with Ukrainian refugees. Last summer, I served families in a small village called Ipalamwa in rural Tanzania, building chicken coops with Global Volunteers. My project in Tanzania was part of the Reaching Children’s Potential program. An impact study from Global Volunteers was recently released showing that the program had reduced childhood stunting by 60% by improving village nutrition, health, and education. I am so honored to have been a part of that effort. Prior to moving to the San Juan Islands, I volunteered for three years with Teen Feed in Seattle, a program that has served thousands of meals to homeless youth in Seattle. This summer I will be traveling to Siedlce, Poland with Global Volunteers, to serve in various capacities, working primarily with children from Ukraine and Poland, teaching conversational English. The purpose of the program is to give some relief to the Ukrainian kids from the war at home and any trauma that they may have experienced through meals, music, games, and maybe even soccer.

  • Friday Harbor, Washington, United States