Spire 2022

A ccording to the UN Refugee Agency, over seven million citizens are displaced inside Ukraine and around 13 million are unable to leave due to immediate life threats, destruction of infrastructure, and lack of resources to travel. Since the Russian invasion, BU alumnus Yaroslav (Yaro) Hnatusko ‘20 has found ways to be a light to those in his home country in need of food, shelter, and resources. Yaro graduated from Bluefield University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in business management and is a current MBA student and graduate assistant in career services at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). On February 24, 2022, Yaro’s family evacuated their home in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, just north of Crimea, after they were awakened by the sounds of explosive missiles from the Russian invasion. Since then, Yaro and his family have been working tirelessly to help those who have been displaced. Yaro and his brother Stan, who is in Ukraine, immediately started a relief effort alongside Stan’s employer Atlant, Ukraine’s largest distributor of wholesale building materials. Working with Atlant, Yaro and Stan helped converted the company’s warehouses into shelters and food banks for the city’s homeless and displaced residents. The relief effort continued to grow and the two brothers founded a nonprofit organization, Restore Ukraine, a dual country nonprofit that helps provide aid and shelter to Ukrainian victims of the Russian invasion. Yaro works around the clock to accommodate the seven-hour time difference from Johnson City, Tenn., raising funds to keep Restore Ukraine’s warehouses full in Kharkiv, the epicenter of the war. The organization has already prepared and distributed more than 540,000 pounds of food supplies. Currently, Restore Ukraine estimates a cost of $2,000 to provide repairs and to insulate one house for the upcoming winter months. Since the beginning of the war, at least 480 million square feet of housing, 256 enterprises, 656 medical institutions, 2,420 educational institutions, and 668 kindergartens have been damaged, destroyed or seized.

Yaro Hnatusko ‘20

The organization is already starting a large construction project to renovate 60 households, one collective center, and to distribute 5,000 shelter kits for light repairs. “Altogether, the Restore Ukraine’s team consists of more than 20 members,” said Yaro. “As the devastation continues to mount, we were faced with an urgent and immediate need to develop partnerships with recognized nonprofit organizations in the U.S. to help more Ukrainian families.” In the U.S., Restore Ukraine chose to operate under the umbrella of Humanitarian Social Innovations, a U.S. nonprofit with federal tax-exempt status. This alliance assisted Restore Ukraine to become a dual-country nonprofit that resulted in the development of partnerships with organizations like International Justice Mission, International Organization for Migration, Shelter Cluster, Project Dynamo, Fight for Freedom, and United Help Ukraine. “Restore Ukraine had one case in March when one of the volunteers was delivering baby diapers and baby food to families across Kharkiv communities,” Yaro shared. “On that day alone, the volunteer was under fire twice. Once he arrived back at the warehouse, it took two hours and the whole team to help the person ‘come back to life.’ He was shaking and he knew that one of those rides to deliver humanitarian help could be his last one. He could see his whole life pass by in split seconds.” The operations on the ground in Ukraine undertake many risks.

Volunteers loading the truck with supplies Photo by Restore Ukraine


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