How St. Paul helps


It didn’t take lengthy for the Malynovskyi household to really feel at house at their new condominium in St. Paul.

Inside minutes of arriving on Thursday morning, Oleksandr Malynovskyi and Olena Malynovska have been unpacking groceries within the kitchen whereas their kids performed with a toy piano, a yellow knobby ball and a Tupperware Form-O ball toy at a child-size desk in the lounge. After exploring the remainder of the garden-level condominium close to Selby and Western avenues, Emiliia, 2½, got here again to the lounge with a inexperienced laundry hamper and hopped in.

Toys, it seems, are common.

“She’s completely happy to be right here,” stated Oleksandr “Sasha” Malynovskyi as he positioned a Dwelling Depot cardboard shifting field on the kitchen desk.

The Malynovskyi household left their house in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Dec. 1, traveled by prepare to Poland and Amsterdam, and arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul Worldwide Airport on Dec. 6. They picked Minnesota after being matched with Woodbury resident Steve Campbell by means of the nationwide Welcome.US refugee program.

“It was a tough determination,” Sasha Malynovskyi stated Thursday, talking in his native Ukrainian by means of interpreter Ana Nikolaieva. “However we have been involved about our security. We have been residing in a tall constructing, and we didn’t have electrical energy, warmth or water. On daily basis it turned tougher to stay in such situations. After we linked with Steve, we determined, ‘It’s time to go.’”

‘Uniting for Ukraine’

Virtually 8 million Ukrainians have fled the nation or been displaced since Russia invaded in February 2022, in keeping with the United Nations.

Lots of these folks have discovered shelter in Europe, particularly Poland, however greater than 100,000 have come to the US beneath “Uniting for Ukraine,” a federal authorities initiative launched in April 2022. This system permits Ukrainians who’ve been displaced by the warfare to hunt refuge within the U.S. if they’ve a personal sponsor prepared to accommodate and financially assist them for 2 years.

Greater than 2,300 sponsors — people and teams — have stepped as much as assist Ukrainians attempting to construct a brand new life in Minnesota, in keeping with the Minnesota Division of Human Companies.

Hennepin County has led the best way with 780 permitted sponsor purposes as of Dec. 13, in keeping with state officers, and Anoka County is subsequent with 327.

Beneath the method, the Malynovskyi household and different Ukrainians are granted humanitarian parole, which lasts for 2 years and creates a pathway to work authorization.

Sasha Malynovskyi owned a know-how firm in Kyiv, specializing in search-engine optimization, and had 10 workers.

“After the warfare began, he had only one shopper, and he had actually no job,” Nikolaieva stated. “He was obliged to shut the agency and lay all of the folks off.”

The Malynovskyi household thought of settling in Florida or New York — each states with giant Ukrainian communities — however selected Minnesota after matching with Campbell.

“They discovered concerning the local weather and discovered that the Ukrainian neighborhood is absolutely sturdy right here, after which they determined that Minnesota is OK for them,” Nikolaieva stated. “There are additionally lots of job alternatives in Minnesota.”

Sasha Malynovskyi, 33, is enrolled in an in-person English class on the Worldwide Institute of Minnesota in St. Paul; Olena Malynovska, 33, is taking an internet English course by means of the institute.

Sasha Malynovskyi stated he plans to search for a job that doesn’t require a lot English at first.

“I must know extra language,” he stated by means of Nikolaieva. “I’m engaged on it, however I feel that I want to start out with one thing easy like being a truck driver or one thing.”

Son Nikita, 7, is enrolled at International Arts Plus Elementary College in St. Paul and is already talking some phrases in English, Sasha Malynovskyi stated. Nikita likes taking part in basketball and driving four-wheeled scooters, he stated.

One of many first objects Nikita delivered to the brand new condominium was a big orange sled.

Barb Freeman, a volunteer who helped furnish the condominium, helped him discover a place to retailer it exterior the again door.

Day-to-day assist

Two men speak near a side table.
Ukrainian refugee Oleksandr Malynovskyi, left, talks with Steve Campbell within the household’s new condominium. Campbell was instrumental in serving to the Malynovskyi household, who fled the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in coming to St. Paul. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

The condominium is a brand new non permanent “touchdown pad” for Ukrainians arriving in St. Paul. It’s owned by St. Paul resident Jeffrey Austin, who has volunteered with Alight, previously the American Refugee Committee.

It’s a godsend for sponsors and households just like the Malynovskyi household, who beforehand have been staying at an Airbnb close to Concordia Faculty in St. Paul that value $3,300 a month.

Campbell, 34, stated he and his spouse, Hannah, have been moved to assist after recognizing an Alight newspaper advert searching for sponsors. “I had been following the warfare fairly intently since February and felt like this was lastly one thing I may do at a person stage to offer assist,” he stated.

The Campbells teamed up with relations, mates and associates to boost $10,500 to sponsor the Malynovskyi household. Campbell, a toxicologist at 3M Co., and a few of the group met the household on the airport once they arrived. “They got here with simply their suitcases and a few backpacks,” he stated.

The sponsors present day-to-day assist to verify the household has every part they should begin a brand new life within the U.S. — from navigating the Metro Transit system to serving to them purchase a 2009 Toyota Prius to getting the kids enrolled at school.

They’re now trying to find an appropriate condominium in St. Paul for the household to maneuver into in February.

Austin’s donated condominium “offers us some respiratory room as we search for a longer-term place for them to remain,” Campbell stated. “It additionally offers us some overlap and offers us time to seek out furnishings and every part they would want for the opposite condominium.”

Alight officers hope different landlords would possibly comply with Austin’s lead, stated Steph Koehne, sponsor program lead for Alight, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that gives sources and steering for the native sponsors.

“It’s been so useful as a result of it alleviates the necessity for funding from the fundraising group to go in the direction of a short lived keep,” she stated. “Though (Austin) isn’t instantly sponsoring a household, he’s nonetheless part of the method. That’s been my favourite a part of this sponsor program: We’ve began to see increasingly folks step ahead in distinctive methods to be supportive.”

A neighborhood therapist, for instance, volunteered to succeed in out to fellow therapists to see if anybody would donate mental-health providers to the newly arriving Ukrainians, Koehne stated.

“We’ve made these actually nice connections with neighborhood members who’ve distinctive methods to present,” she stated. “I’ve had folks electronic mail or name and say, ‘I’m an employer, and I’d actually like to make use of somebody who’s coming from Ukraine. These are the job openings I’ve.’ Lots of people have tales about their very own arrival in the US or their dad and mom’ arrival in the US that actually evokes them to be a part of this course of in welcoming folks to Minnesota.”

Alight was based in 1978 to assist folks on the Thai-Cambodian border. The humanitarian group offers well being care, clear water, shelter, safety and financial alternatives to greater than 3.5 million folks in additional than 20 nations annually, Koehne stated.


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