We are all aware of the humanitarian crisis occurring in the wake of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. Wanting to help, we may find ourselves overwhelmed by the magnitude of suffering… How can we make a difference when so many need help?
Have you ever heard the Starfish Story?
The complete tale can be read at the end of this narrative; the moral of the story: Everyone can make a difference — even if that difference affects one person.
Nataliya and Oleksandra are sisters. Nataliya is a talented soprano, instructor and resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast; Oleksandra is a talented artist, wife, mother to three-year-old Sasha, wife and Ukrainian refugee.
As Russian troops and tanks descended upon the coastal town of Odessa, Oleksandra and her husband Alex collected little Sasha and escaped under cover of darkness, leaving everything behind. Living in their car for four days, they made the trek across former Eastern Bloc European countries, finally arriving in Milan, Italy, on a good day, a 27-hour trip. Once there and discovering their vehicle would take them no further, a good samaritan offered this weary family shelter in a garage apartment. Oleksandra had been the recipient of a travel visa through a European lottery; all they needed was a ride to freedom.
Sister Nataliya (here in the US) then received a message that her sister, nephew and brother-in-law may or may not be on board a plane bound for San Diego. Twenty-four hours later, a phone call! They had landed safely in San Diego, and through the kindness and a network of strangers, the little family finally arrived on the Gulf Coast… a region not unlike their former home in the Ukraine.
Oleksandra, Alex and little Sasha will be making Mississippi their new home. Sasha will be attending Coast Episcopal School through a generous scholarship.
We want to welcome this deserving family to the Gulf Coast the only way Southerners know how, through hospitality and generosity, providing them with all the tools they need to make a fresh new start here, including housing, furnishings, clothing and more. Too many of us know what it’s like to have to leave everything behind when fleeing a hurricane.
Through our collective efforts, let’s make a difference for this family whose goal is to attain citizenship and make the Gulf Coast their home.
The starfish story
By: Loren Eiseley
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking up and gently throwing things into the ocean.
Approaching the boy he asked, “Young man, what are you doing?”
“Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die,” the boy replied.
The man laughed to himself and said, “Do you realize there are miles of miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make any difference.”
After listening politely, the boy bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the surf. Then, he smiled at the man and said, “I made a difference to that one.”