Calgarians’ kindness helping Ukrainian family settle

One week ago, a Ukrainian family was facing homelessness upon arriving to Calgary. In the days since, the kindness of Calgarians has changed the trajectory of their lives. Jillian Code reports.

The kindness of Calgarians has changed the trajectory of the lives of a Ukrainian family who was on the brink of becoming unhoused upon arriving to Calgary.

“I can’t go to sleep at night thinking that there’s a family that’s homeless,” said Anne Yates-Lebarge — executive director, Hillhurst United Church (HUC).

Just last week, Yates-Lebarge’s house was quiet; however, now she’s surrounded by the sounds of children playing, as she is housing the family.

The family was gifted three nights in a hotel when they arrived in Calgary and their stay was extended for an additional three nights when they couldn’t find a house.

“As a person coming in with very little language skills, no money whatsoever… they don’t have a chance of finding housing in three days,” Yates-Lebarge said.

Yates-Lebarge picked up the family from the hotel parking lot and helped them in their search to find a permanent house.

Meanwhile, the father, Oleksandr Kravchenko, is trying hard to find a job.

“It’s a hard search — my work, I work Ukrainian driving forklift, I like to… it’s my job,” Kravchenko said.

“He’s had five years of forklift experience in Ukraine and been a driver and all sorts of things, but the biggest issue right now is that for him to work in a warehouse, he needs to be safe,” Yates-Lebarge said.

The Kravchenko family sits at the table day and night, learning English.

“There’s ways to do this to accommodate, but we need employers to actually say ‘okay, we’re willing to step up and understand that we’re gonna have a person who doesn’t have perfect English, but they’re trying,’” Yates-Lebarge said.

‘The measure of a society is how they take care of their most vulnerable members’

One of the sons needed urgent dental work, so she took him to a local dentist, Briar Hill Dental.

When then church offered to pay, the dentist and owner of Briar Hill refused to take the money, saying the service was fully covered.

“The measure of a society is how they take care of their most vulnerable members, and it just feels good to give back too. It makes you feel more human and like you’re doing something that’s worthwhile,” Dr. Syne said.

A member of the HUC is going to rent a house to the family.

The family moves in at the beginning of May.

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