Unity As a Weapon Against Evil: How Volunteering Helps Resist Russia’s Enemy Attack (Part 2)
We carry on telling stories about our Innovecsers — brave, passionate, empathetic and unbreakable.
Anastasiia Chaikovska, Internal Communications Specialist at Innovecs, is now locally in Venice but also does a lot for Ukraine at a distance. She became a part of an initiative group in support of Ukraine that joined protests against Russia’s invasion. As a communications specialist, Anastasiia is particularly active in preparing and translating content for Italians about the war in Ukraine. She collaborates with local media and gives interviews and comments. “I do not feel much support for Ukraine in the region where I study, so I am making efforts to cover the situation as much as possible and inform the Italians. Some are protesting with vague slogans for peace and for whom it does not matter who will be the first to lay down their arms. It is a relief that the situation in Bologna is different — there are many Italians who care about Ukraine and their hearts are with us”, — says Nastya.
To fill the Italian-language information space with objective facts about Ukraine, she prepared a translation of the captives’ press conference and distributed it via the YouTube channel, wrote letters to NGOs, drawing attention to the violence in Kherson, and did everything possible for Ukraine to be heard and discussed in the Italian press.
Nastya joined the initiative of her friend, a native of Crimea, who negotiated with Italian stores to collect humanitarian aid for Ukrainians. She also formed a database of charitable foundations and organizations to which foreigners could transfer funds to support Ukraine.
“My job is to coordinate and help people find the information they need. I have to be constantly in touch and prepared for communication. During the war, when people are confused and do not understand who can guide and moderate, the work of a communications specialist is very important, — says Nastya. — Awareness of this responsibility and one’s duty to others motivates us to be as focused as possible and not give up even in difficult situations. And this help is the least I can do now”.
"Overall I am lucky with people”
Andriy Burkovskyi, the Broadcast Producer at Innovecs immediately made an informed decision to raise funds for the Ukrainian army. In this difficult case, he benefited from his previous experience of participating in charity projects.
In the beginning, things didn’t go well. The volunteer admits: “At first there was chaos and I sent a lot of money to complete strangers just from the repost of friends on social media”. Therefore, he decided to help a specific squad of one brigade — surveillance group.
During his work on the volunteer front, Andriy took part in the purchase of a minibus, an SUV, and a car for collection for defenders. He also found, bought, and handed over: 22 sapper shovels, 5+ class 15 bulletproof vests, 3 pairs of tactical goggles, 10 AK belts, and bags for first aid kits.
“Cooking is important volunteering help. We have been feeding our soldiers all the time since the third day of the full-scale invasion and until the russians were kicked out of the Kyiv region. Many thanks to my friends from the Beef meat restaurant for their cooperation. Delicious food allowed our defenders to distract a little”, — says Andriy.
During the active hostilities in the Kyiv region, Andriy had the hardest time finding trusted people who would be ready to go anywhere in the capital to pick up and transport belongings.
“Overall I am lucky with people, almost everyone is cool and good, I would like to have them on the team. My friend, for example, started bringing tactical items for the military to Ukraine from abroad at cost”.
Andriy shared his plans after the victory:
- to gather everyone involved in a restaurant that fed the military and to have a delicious dinner,
- to gather the necessary things for orphanages and visit children together with animators,
- to go to Mykolayiv and set a NikoRing record.
“The whole world has been supporting us”
Yevhen Khodos, Customer Care Manager at Innovecs, began volunteering on the second day of the full-scale war. Yevhen is a member of the unofficial Vespa Club in Ukraine. Official clubs worldwide are united by the main federation called Vespa World Club. This is a community of like-minded people who admire the most famous scooter in the world — Vespa.
At the very beginning, Yevhen and the members of the club made their choice in favor of volunteering. Despite the emotional tension, Sasha, Yevhen’s friend, did not betray his passion for photography and continued to capture on camera moments of the new life of the capital.
Thanks to Sasha, these photos got a second life in a post on the SIP Scootershop Facebook page (a huge Lambretta and Vespa scooter parts store with almost 250K subscribers). For the shots and the revealed story, the store sent 3,000 euros for the Armed Forces’ needs. In addition, the post on the page gained magnitude among clubs around the world, which began to offer their help.
“We sent them the details of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, ‘Come back alive’, and ‘Yavorina’, the Ukrainian women’s association. In the first days, we raised about $30,000”, — says Yevhen.
This was just the beginning of our cooperation with the entire world. “Clubs collected humanitarian aid, canned food, clothes, military helmets, cars, etc., and brought all that to Poland. With the support of the Polish club, the received items were sent to warehouses, sorted, and sent to Ukraine or, if necessary, given to people from Poland. Some organized charity events to raise funds. We received walkie-talkies for our military from the Germans”, — Yevhen added.
Some clubs have already raised thousands of euros from the sale of our stickers and are not going to stop. They were joined by SIP Scootershop.
“In general, the whole world has been supporting us. We did not ask anyone. However, for the first two weeks, members of the community were constantly busy writing words of gratitude to clubs, presidents, and all concerned members”, — said Yevhen.
“You just exist, and thanks to that, children from Kharkiv or Bucha have the opportunity to get a little more than they could get. It is clear that this will not replace their homes. I just know for sure that they are warm, they are cared for, and there are funds to make this happen. I know that someone on a walkie-talkie transmitted guidance on russian equipment, and our guys smashed it before it caused trouble in a city. That is, thanks to that armor someone’s father will return home”, — Yevhen admits.
“Having such people around leaves no chance for this evil”
Marharyta Troian, Talent Acquisition Manager at Innovecs shares her story:
“I have long felt that a full-scale war would begin, but I did not understand when exactly this would happen. So all the time I have been under psychological stress. On February 24, in Kharkiv, we woke up at five in the morning to the first explosions. We had already packed all our backpacks, so we went to bed around nine. Afterward, we worked, held the necessary meetings, and ran to the bar. We were organized from day one. Although it was clear to me before the start of hostilities where I would be”, — Marharyta recalls.
Together with her family and friends, Marharyta went to the friendly and family business of the Switch grill bar in Kharkiv. It turned out that the basement of the establishment can be used as a bomb shelter. All the neighbors came there at once.
Then it was decided to reorganize the bar into a shelter for volunteers and neighbors, and in the kitchen to prepare food for those who need help. The site of the establishment has also changed and became a page of the volunteer center of the same name Switch, where anyone can get familiar with the activities of the organization, help financially or ask for help: https://switch.baby/uk/
We quote the main page of the volunteer organization’s website: “At the first moment, as soon as the war came to Kharkiv on February 24, we gathered at a bar knowing that we could never return to our homes. This did not stop us: we reorganized the bar into a shelter for volunteers and neighbors, as well as switched the kitchen to 24/7 mode to cook meals for the nearest houses and the subway”.
Marharyta and her team deliver humanitarian food aid. Also, whenever possible, she supports the military and police.
“The first time we bought everything at our own expense. There are just a lot of IT people here, — says Marharyta warmly, — Then they found contacts of other volunteer organizations. They helped us buy what we needed as funds”.
During the full-scale war, Marharyta and her friends delivered more than 3,500 packages of food to those who could cook on their own, fed more than 14,000 residents, and shipped and delivered 35 tons of cargo. The Switch Center continues to volunteer 24/7 to help Kharkiv survive.
“People help to move forward — those who are around, cook, find and pack a humanitarian aid, those who receive it and really rejoice at this… I have a hard time containing my emotions when I see how Kharkiv united and engaged in volunteering. You come to realize that having such people around leaves no chance for this evil”, — Marharyta assures.
Helping Animals Caught in the War in Ukraine
Nataliia Horova, PR Specialist at Innovecs, has chosen helping animals amid other vectors of her volunteer work. «Love for animals — that’s me», — says Nataliia.
She found herself abroad long before the full-scale war unfolded, but even at a distance, she does everything possible for Ukraine. The horrific stories about animals in shelters and pets left at home moved Nataliia. She decided to resume activities to help the animals because she has been constantly engaged in this charity even back then, in peaceful days.
Overall, Natalia managed to raise 55,000UAH. With these funds, more than 700 kg of food was purchased in Budapest, and flea and tick repellents are especially necessary for four-legged animals in the warm season. All the cargo was delivered to the “SOS” shelter in Kyiv.
Experiences like these help to keep up our morale and strengthen faith in victory. Stick with us because there will be more in our next blog post. And remember — just as the darkness thickens before dawn, so the good intensifies when evil is expressed.