Western Pennsylvania Nonprofits, Hospitals and Businesses Unite to Bring Aid to Ukraine
Pittsburgh-area organizations have joined forces to help Ukrainians beleaguered by the ongoing Russian invasion by sending medical supplies and humanitarian aid to residents of the war-torn Eastern European country.
“It’s amazing how generous the people of western Pennsylvania have been. They’ve opened their hearts and wallets for Kentucky (tornado victims) and now in the Ukraine crisis,” said Ozzy Samad, president of the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Brother’s Brother Foundation.
Brother’s Brother has partnered with the Pittsburgh Technology Council, Allegheny Health Network and Highmark Health to raise funds and secure donations of medical supplies.
Brother’s Brother, which provides relief to people affected by natural and man-made disasters internationally, raised about $130,000 from more than 300 donors this week, Samad said. The amount of donations skyrocketed in the first 24 hours, when Brother’s Brother collected about $20,000 from 150 donors, Samad said.
“We would love to raise a quarter of a million dollars. It’s significant,” said Audrey Russo, president of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, who said her organization has reached out to its members to support the efforts.
Allegheny Health Network has donated 50 pallets of medical supplies – gloves, syringes, IV solutions and medications to treat critical trauma patients, said Laura Mark, vice president of pharmacy for Allegheny Health.
Within days, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh had received more than $208,000 as of Thursday, with further commitments to come but not yet confirmed from donors for its Ukraine Relief Fund, the spokesperson said. Adam Herzman. The federation estimates it will end up with more than $600,000 to $700,000, Hertzman said.
“There was an incredible outpouring,” he said.
The money will go to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the nonprofit World ORT for the Jewish population of Ukraine, Hertzman said.
Many of Ukraine’s 200,000 Jews are elderly and low-income. About 1,500 are Holocaust survivors, Hertzman said.
“The level of trauma (for Holocaust victims) that goes through something like this again is inconceivable,” he said.
There are a large number of nonprofits operating in Ukraine, Hertzman said. Among those is Music in World Cultures, which has raised more than $30,000 for its relief efforts, said Kristy Kauffman, spokeswoman for the Washington County-based organization that uses music as a strategic tool. in missions.
Partnerships are key to organizations’ relief efforts, and joining Brother’s Brother works well for the technology council because that organization has the experience to get medical supplies to those in need, Russo said.
“The dollars are going straight (in supplies purchases), and what we buy will be in good hands,” Russo said.
The technology council became involved when the Commerce Department’s US Commercial Services Office in Pittsburgh issued a very urgent request for a supply list, said Brian Kennedy, senior vice president of operations for the technology council. The technical council has spread the word to its more than 1,500 members, Kennedy said.
Knowing what to send to Ukraine became easier when the US Embassy in Ankara, Turkey provided organizations with a list of needed medical supplies, Samad said.
“We get the supplies that are on the list of needs. You can’t put a price on that,” Samad said.
Speaking about the Allegheny Health donation, Samad said “there is no way we would have gotten this much supply” so quickly without the Allegheny Health Network. Highmark Health provided a cash donation that can be used to cover shipping costs, Samad said.
the supplies will be flown to Bucharest, Romania, or Warsaw, Poland, early next week and then handed over to Ukrainian officials who will truck them to the border, Samad said.
The cost of shipping products in these times of inflation is another barrier to delivering aid.
“The cost to ship four pallets is $12,000. Then, to get it to the border, it could cost another $3,000. The cost fluctuates daily or hourly,” Samad said.
Brother’s Brother has also supported mobile medical teams consisting of three doctors and two nurses as well as those providing mental health assistance to Ukrainians, Samad said.
The Ministry of Music Steps Up
The money Music in World Cultures is planning for its relief needs will reach more than $100,000 over the next few weeks “now that we see what the needs are on the ground,” Kauffman said. With the ability to transfer money to financial institutions around the world, Kauffman said, the organization is able to deposit money into an account in the United States and make it accessible to its partners. Ukrainians almost immediately.
Music in World Cultures is working with its 20 employees in Ukraine to distribute food, water, clothing, medical supplies and hygiene items, Kauffman said.
Their employees buy the medical supplies, food, water and other items in Europe because it’s cheaper than buying them in the United States and shipping them, Kauffman said. They are distributing this aid to frontline soldiers and to women, children and other displaced people, she said.
Music directors and bandleaders at MIWC turned to distributing aid after ferrying the team’s wives and children out of the country, Kauffman said.
“They were very relieved to get their wives and children out of Ukraine and Romania,” she said.
The Ukrainian government has granted special chaplain status to male MIWC workers, allowing them to travel throughout Ukraine and access closed areas to distribute aid. Without that designation, workers would have to return to defend their hometowns, as ordered by the Ukrainian government, Kauffman said.
MIWC has three supply lines in Ukraine and a team based in Estonia that works together with the Estonian Baptist Evangelical Christian Union and the Student Volunteer Organization in Estonia.
“We partner with these organizations so as not to duplicate efforts but to meet as many needs as possible,” Kauffman said.
“The network that we (MIWC) have developed in Ukraine and Eastern Europe over the past 25 years will now be used to meet the most immediate needs of those who are suffering,” said Stephen Benham, MIWC President and Professor in music education at Duquesne University.
The work is far from done, said Russo of the technology council.
“Everyone wants to do something,” she says.