Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has spurred one of the greatest volunteer movements in history. How do you help 4.2 million Ukrainian refugees who fled their homeland and 40 million more living in a war zone? You do it with 10 million volunteers and a massive dose of generosity through charitable giving.
And I’m not even talking about global organizations such as The Red Cross, UNICEF, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, and other brand name charities that are doing invaluable work. I am talking about a ragtag fleet of grassroots, individual citizens and small businesses who are stepping up – without central planning or government involvement – to help house, feed, and even rescue Ukrainians in need.
There is Monika, a Polish sales manager, who took time off from work three days after the invasion to deliver desperately needed supplies to the Korczowa border. On the trip back home, she drove a young Ukrainian mother and her son to a friend’s house for safe lodging.
Then there is Bogdan from Rzeszow along with hundreds of Polish and Ukrainian truck drivers who are driving into the warzone in the dark of night to deliver food and medical supplies to Ukrainians hunkered down in basements and bunkers across the nation.
I’m talking about Ronald, a French-American entrepreneur, who created a movement by rallying the Polish and expatriate community near Krakow to take refugees into their homes who are flooding over the border.
There’s Cecilia and Hugo, an Argentinian/Portuguese couple, living two and a half hours from the Ukrainian border who opened their home to Marina, a young budding architect from Kyiv along with her family of five and her dog.
Jacek, a Polish lawyer, volunteers to drive journalists into Lviv to make sure ‘the truth’ gets reported to the world. For good measure, he fills his Toyota SUV to the brim with vital, life-saving supplies.
I am talking about Maksymilian and Marcin from YPO Poland, Irina and Lena from YPO Kyiv, and the 70-odd entrepreneurs and business leaders of our regional YPO chapters. They are all contributing their products, materials, people, and supply chains to solve what is essentially one of the most challenging real-life, real-time case studies in business history: how to supply 44 million people with lifesaving supplies into a very real, very dangerous war zone.
And finally, I am talking about my three friends and colleagues at the American Chamber of Commerce – Tony Housh, David DeBenedetti, and Dorothy Dabrowski – who worked for hours with me to create “Corporate Aid for Ukraine,” a humanitarian Charitable Fund. Our mission is to raise millions of dollars from businesspeople, corporations, and SMEs to get it into the hands of the people and organizations in Poland and Ukraine. They need the help now and we know how to get things done.
With Putin’s brutal assault on sovereign Ukraine and its innocent civilians and even children, we are witness to the very worst of humanity. But at the same moment, we have hope. Not only because are we witnesses, but because we are a party to one of the greatest acts of compassion ever – the very best of humanity.
This is the light to counter the dark. Through hope and faith, experience, and history, this is the light that will prevail. Just ask any one of the ten million volunteers.
Please join us in the Light by helping Ukraine and donating any amount you can afford to CAU: www.cau.org.pl.
John Lynch is an American entrepreneur and author living in Krakow, Poland since 1991, when he arrived as a business volunteer to help rebuild Poland after the fall of Communism. John is founder & CEO of Lynka, and Treasurer/Board Member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Poland since 2003. He is former Chapter Chair of YPO Poland, and past Entrepreneur of the Year in Poland. He published his first novel, The Ark, in November 2021. In March 2022, he founded Corporate Aid for Ukraine, a non-profit, tax-deductible charitable fund dedicated to providing funds to rapid-response charitable and humanitarian aid organizations on the front lines of the Ukraine war. CAU has partnered with Charities Aid Foundation of Washington, D.C. America’s leader in donor-advised giving.