Ukrainian Tri-C Students Get an Education while their Country is at War
Lakewood, OH, is often busy with streets filled with the chatter of pedestrians and the familiar sound of cars traveling down the main roads. Situated near the corner of DetroitAvenue andWarren Road, Caffeine Lakewood, a coffee shop, could expect to have a modest number of customers huddled inside craving something warm to drink on the cold evening of April 2. Today, however, the doors to the café were locked. A private event was being held, reflecting a war that, while being fought thousands of miles away, was hitting many people close to home.
The event, Ukrainian Charity Night, ran from around 7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., garnering a crowd of dozens of people who each paid a $50 admission fee. The purpose was to raise money to help those in Ukraine which has been the target of a Russian invasion since February 24. April 20, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), the UN’s refugee agency, certified 5,121 civilian casualties, noting the toll was likely considerably higher. The agency leader said on twitter the same day that the number of refugees forced to flee the war topped 5 million.
In the front of the café, Ukrainian flags hung from several of the windows, and the area was stacked with paintings, apparel, stickers, and art donated by Ukrainian American artists for auctions and sale. In the back, next to a small buffet set up for eventgoers, a bake sale was held to raise money as well. While many of those at the charity event were Ukrainian Americans,
others were locals looking to show support, including Lakewood resident Brittany Wilson. “African Americans are constantly under attack,” explained Wilson, “LGBTQ people are constantly under attack. If it were us instead, I would want Ukrainians to help as well.”
Present at the event was Nadia Petriv, representing the Cleveland Maidan Association, an organization working to help those affected by the war. “Right now,” Petriv says, “we’re focusing on medical supplies that will be sent to refugee centers on the borders, hospitals, and first responders that need any kind of immediate medical supplies to treat wounds on the spot.” Petriv also mentioned that the organization was able to send 30 parcels of humanitarian aid previously, thanks to funds from those willing to help financially.
One of the attendees presents was a Ukrainian American Tri-C graduate, Rehina Sauchuk, who explained that her father was still in Ukraine when the war started, and she is often kept up at night. “It’s something you can’t get away from; the emotional toll is heavy. You feel angry that it’s happening. You feel guilt that you are here, not getting on a plane and joining the cause.” She said. “We need to hit the streets. What we want is a peaceful world.”
“There’s always more people can do,” said Wilson. As the sky grew dark, attendees began to leave, heading back to their homes, the memories of their kin miles away fighting fresh in their minds as they stepped onto the street-lit sidewalks as the day came to a close.
In a statement made on March 1, Tri-C President Dr. Alex Johnson condemned the invasion, calling it “senseless” and the destruction unleased “disturbing.” Johnson also stated on Tri-C’s website, “Support services are available to students and employees. Students can call 216-987-6000 to schedule a confidential counseling session or visit Tri-C’s Counseling page, which contains numerous resources. Employees should contact Impact Solutions for support and guidance. Counseling services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. (Username: ccc).” Johnson additionally urged students to keep the Ukrainian people in their thoughts.
Those wishing to help people in Ukraine can donate to the following organizations: Cleveland Maidan Foundation (website: https://www.clevelandmaidan.info/ )
Tri-C is currently working with Global Cleveland to raise donations (website: https://globalcleveland.org/)
Doctors Without Borders (website
UNICEF USA (website: https://www.unicefusa.org/)
Sources: https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/number-refugees-fleeing-ukraine-war-exceeds-5-millionun-agency-2022-04-20/ (5 million figure)