Tallahassee woman sets up GoFundMe for friend escaping Ukraine with newborn
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters a second week, incredible stories of survival are starting to emerge.
One Tallahassee woman has a personal connection to a family fleeing the violence.
Kelley Parker lives in the Capital City but grew up in Louisiana. A good family friend from there had moved to Ukraine several years ago.
She says Jeffrey White met his wife Katya there and they married in 2020. Just two weeks ago, they celebrated the birth of a baby boy.
But as the bombs began to fall, the family had no choice but to flee.
“I think it was pretty scary,” Parker said, having messaged with White’s family daily.
She said the family drove for several days, making slow but steady progress.
But when traffic completely stalled, they got out on foot.
“She walked having just had the baby, five miles,” she said.
A bus carrying other refugees spotted the baby and let them on. At the border, they separated the women and children from the men.
Katya moved through fast, but Parker said it took White 22 hours to make it through. Since Ukrainian men aren’t allowed to leave, his American passport was his ticket out.
A friend of a friend of a friend knew a pastor in Poland. He picked them up and is letting them stay at his home. But the family remains in limbo, now seeking visas and a return to the U.S.
“I can’t imagine having to start over with nothing,” she said.
Their story is being repeated a thousand times over. JC Torres is a Florida-based worker for the International Rescue Committee, which works to resettle refugees across the globe.
“The reality is that many families will be displaced indefinitely,” he said. “The first couple of days, it’s just a very stressful situation... People try to navigate a landscape they’ve never been faced with before.”
Torres said camps are popping up and groups are working fast in freezing temperatures to offer comfort. But it remains a herculean task.
“We’re already pretty much stretched thin trying to respond to all of these things,” he said.
That reality seemingly makes the GoFundMe page set up for Jeffrey, Katya, and baby Jeffrey all the more impactful.
“She just had a baby, she’s left everything she has and the middle of the night and they don’t have anything and I thought lord what can I do to help,” Parker said.
Parker said the family has been overwhelmed with the support they’ve seen.
There’s also an Amazon wish list which will help the family settle into their new lives.
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