‘Everyone in Ukraine right now, heroes’: Native Ukrainian reaction to crisis in war-torn Ukraine

It’s been nearly two weeks of President Vladimir Putin’s relentless advancement of Russian troops into cities across Ukraine. Some of our neighbors here in Wisconsin, fearing for their family members and loved ones, living in Ukraine.
‘Everyone in Ukraine right now, heroes’: Native Ukrainian reaction to crisis in war-torn Ukraine
Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 5:33 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -“This is my kid, this is only one, Michelle” says Svitlana Smetlanyk, Galesville resident and Ukraine Native.

Smetlanyk calls America home, but her roots trace back to Ukraine.

“This is war, this is very, very bad,” she says.

Five-thousand miles away, Smetlanyk wakes up every morning checking to see if her loved ones and family are still safe.

“Why, why? This is my parents, my dad, my mom my two brothers, my family,” Smetlanyk questions. “I don’t know why he comes into my country.”

Her two older brothers now in the military stationed north of Kyiv, her 75-year old parents and daughter near the eastern border.

“My heart is broke,” Smetlanyk cries.

Watching city after city in Ukraine under fire, a heartbreak shared by many.

“Every few minutes there is news, another news, and another news,” starts Valentyna Pavsyukova.

Pavsyukova came to the U.S. after winning the green card lottery at the age of 18.

“It is as little David is fighting Goliath,” she explains. Pavsyukova founded Chalice of Mercy out of Chippewa Falls shortly thereafter—a Catholic mission to Ukraine providing humanitarian relief efforts.

“I was born in a time when there was Soviet Union and the faith was forbidden,” Pavsyukova explains.

She says despite the fact that Ukraine has just recently been making headlines, this conflict between Russia and Ukraine, dates back eight years when protests sparked throughout the country. Pavsyukova calling an invasion, only a matter of time.

“Because he [Putin] could not even imagine that this country, Ukraine would become so strong and prosperous and become a part of NATO even? no” says Pavsyukova.

February 24, that fear becoming reality. “And many of our cities are just wiped out, the greatest city, the most beautiful things, the churches the schools the squares where our children were playing,” Pavsyukova explains.

Mother of two, Olga Paulson trying to be strong for her girls dressed in blue and yellow in solidarity of Ukraine.

Feeling helpless, Olga says, as she watches her country in dire need.

“Everyone in Ukraine right now, heroes, and we are so proud of them, that they stand for their land, and for their truth, there’s no reason for them to go anywhere because how can you take whole house with you,” Paulson cries.

The three Ukraine Natives all say their great hope is that there is great defense coming to Ukraine.


Valentyna Pavsyukova founder of Chalice of Mercy out of Chippewa Falls is currently in the process of collecting donations and supplies for both civilians and soldiers in Ukraine. The first shipment of humanitarian aid is heading to the border Friday March 11 and she is asking for the communities help in bringing in donations.

Items including medical supplies, infant clothing, and non perishable food items.

Pavsyukova says PayPal is the easiest way to help them purchase the donations needed for...
Pavsyukova says PayPal is the easiest way to help them purchase the donations needed for civilians and soldiers in Ukraine.(Chalice of Mercy)

Central collection Site for all items being donated to Ukraine through Chalice of Mercy at McDonnell High School.

1316 Bel Air Blvd

Chippewa Falls, WI 54729

When: 7:20am – 4pm Monday to Friday

Deadline for 1st Collection & Shipment

Friday, March 11th before noon

Contact: Chad Bormann

(608) 658-2504

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