Santa Barbara caregiver talks about his trip to help his fellow Ukrainians
Dennis Snitskiy can’t help but think of the adage: “War brings out the worst and the best in people.”
It’s a phrase that reverberated through his mind as he dropped everything to journey to Poland earlier this month, bags laden with bandages and pain medication and other medical supplies, to help as refugees fled Ukraine. He rented a car, ferrying supplies among various refugee organizations around Kraków, and transported families to safety outside of the city.
The war — and the ensuing refugee crisis — is personal for Mr. Snitskiy. He was born and raised in Ukraine, living for about a decade in Kyiv before moving to Santa Barbara eight years ago.
In recent months, Mr. Snitskiy has watched from halfway across the world as his home is invaded and attacked by Russia. Some of the people crossing the border into Poland now, Mr. Snitskiy said, are his friends.
“I just went (to Poland) because I saw there was a lot of people coming in,” Mr. Snitskiy said in an interview with the News-Press earlier this week upon his return to Santa Barbara. “I just went there to see how I could help. It’s logistical things like … transporting people from point A to point B, bringing medical supplies, bringing clothes.”
The need is overwhelming, Mr. Snitskiy said. So he approached it just one family at a time.
“I cannot solve it myself. I don’t think there’s one person who can solve it,” he said of the crisis. “But if you can do maybe one thing for one family, that will be more than doing nothing. (The need) will not stop until the war stops. The need is going to always be there.”
Mr. Snitskiy, 42, works as a caregiver in Santa Barbara, but he’s cut back on that job a bit to act as a consultant for Ukrainians who want to immigrate to the U.S. He’s familiar with the process, since he immigrated not so long ago, and is helping with everything from paperwork to advice.
He plans to go back to Poland in the near future, but in the meantime, he is raising money for gas as volunteers transport refugees out of Ukraine. He recently started a GoFundMe account, which can be found here: gofundme.com/f/2022-helping-ukrainian-refugees.
But Mr. Snitskiy is also encouraging people who want to help simply to check in on their friends or neighbors who are Ukrainian.
“Just support them, tell them you support them, that you’re there to talk to them,” he said. “If you can help, please do.”
As he was headed to Los Angeles International Airport to go to Poland a few weeks ago, a bus driver noticed his bags, which were marked as carrying aid to Ukraine. The driver got on the intercom to convey his mundane safety and route message but continued on to say: “We have a man on our bus traveling to help those in Ukraine. All of the tips you give me today on this ride will be given to him to continue to help those in need.”
“It was a personal touch and a personal reaction to what’s going on,” Mr. Snitskiy said, recalling the emotion he felt because of this stranger’s generosity.
Those interested in finding out more ways to help can contact Mr. Snitskiy at firstname.lastname@example.org.